white tuberous begonia
for my sister Cheri
from Stanley Kunitz:
"When you look back on a lifetime and think of what has been given to the world by your presence, your fugitive presence, inevitably you think of your art, whatever it may be, as the gift you have made to the world in acknowledgement of the gift you have been given, which is the life itself. And I think the world tends to forget that this is the ultimate significance of the body of work each artist produces. That work is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the depest manifestation of your gratitude for the gift of life."
The anniversary of her passing has Stanley's words ringing in my ears, for she is gone too soon. We grew up downwind from the Nevada nuclear test site, standing outside in the evenings in awe of the clouds, the colors on those days they "tested". After our oldest sister survived breast cancer, Cheri knew; a voice inside her began whispering of what the future held for her. Only once did she make the most casual reference. (Is it necessary to ask me how i feel about presidents who have always lied about weapons of mass destruction in a nation where we pride ourselves on being...well...you know what i mean...and that's all i ever wish to say on the matter, here in the garden) Please, dwell with me instead on other truths..
There she is--a woman who never owned a pair of sensible shoes in her life but never said no to "you want to go?"-- so, there she was, on a raft in a river in Alaska. Before leaving she called to say, "You'll never guess where I'm going!" i told her to go buy some sturdy hiking shoes...she just laughed. And she was game for it all...the mountains, the river raft, the helicopter ride to the rocky island where she clambored up steep hills and collected eagle's feathers. Another photograph shows her in a sweater created with her own hands in a pattern inspired by Native American weavings that she discovered were somehow linked to our early Mormon ancestors...she was like that...following the still small voice inside that connected her to essences most of us cannot sense. Threads in her hands...that's what i remember...and her laughing.