Friday, December 01, 2006


How empty the house is!

Nick and I accomplish funeral home formalities and arrange for a memorial service, to take place at the Wellfleet Library, a favorite haunt of Bea's, Dec. 16, 5 pm. Then we sit together quietly before her boxes of mementos, a life well lived.

I realize I did not fully cover her appreciation of art. Bea has a box of postcards, many acquired during early trips abroad: images of Grecian statues, sculpture by Michelangelo, sculpture from Vézelay, Renaissance paintings and modern art by Mary Cassatt or Vincent Van Gogh. On the back of one postcard, marked Yaksi, Indian, Sanci, 50-25 B.C., Bea has scrawled recently, “Just because it is so beautiful.” There is a booklet from the Musée Guimet, showing a bust of Tara, seemingly in meditation. I also find peaceful Nara Buddhas, which remind me of the last time Sven and I took my mother to the Museum of Fine Arts. We pushed her wheelchair to the Buddha room. That was where she wanted to go.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the HPCCC team, who made such a difference in the last months of Bea’s life, and especially Lisa Olson. Her devotion shines as a model to others. I am glad I have recorded her loving care in this blog. This is how the extreme elderly deserve to be treated.

Among Bea’s papers we find a poem, composed in 1963. I offer it as conclusion, Bea’s wish for the world to find its way, particularly relevant at a time when war kills more civilians in Iraq every day, genocide in Darfur goes unchallenged, and the absence of outrage at murder by polonium-21 makes the needle on our moral compass swing blindly, like our hearts, now that Bea has left …

Come, virgins, in your beauteous prime.
Come, Aztec youth primeval.
Earth moves toward the glorious Sun:
Inexorable the sacrifice of blood.

Ruddy gore,
glutinous and red with corpuscles,
microscopic discs
like gaudy sacramental wafers,
invisibly, but oh so chemically
in league with Earth’s encircling air.

How comforting
to let the mind reflect,
however briefly,
on relatively simple

But enough,
for warmer rays foretell
our growing closeness
to the Sun.
And so to sacrificial season when
blood must encrust
or soak within receptive soil.

We can force the blood to spill
but – here’s the tawdry joke! –
cannot make it soak
discreetly in
like liquid fertilizer.
Who knows? It may lie crusty
for days
waiting for rain.

Christ, with wooden stakes for Calvary,
joins now the celibate crew
on Friday, when the Sun and Moon
position for Earth’s
yearly resurrection.

If Christ had never lived,
we might, forsooth, have imagined Him
out of our own compelling need
for blood.

But Christ did live and die,
Attic maiden, too,
and others in the long procession.
with this difference: Christ chose
to die for others.
Can his death atone?
Can such a sacrifice fulfill
our curious need for blood?

You, there, in Murmansk,
closer to Point Barrow
as the crow would fly
than L.A., Omaha or Ottawa,
be pleased to listen.

If we concentrate
on rockets killing rockets,
we shall kill more than rockets.

More meet, it seems.
the sacrifice of One.
Weary Earth, of bloody sacrifice
Be done.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

They say that everyone in life that we meet touch us in a certain way, but few have a really profound effect on us. I can see that Bea was one of the few who leave their mark. I'm sad for you but I'm happy for Bea, for a life well-lived.

7:07 AM  
Blogger Karyn said...

Thank you for posting these photos of Bea. What a smile! And yowza, those cheekbones. Truly , youth is wasted on the young... How are you faring?

10:24 AM  

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