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Giving shells back to the sea, a poem by Chad Norman

Giving shells back to the sea

In Memory of Jack Sears (1929-2018)*

Suddenly our home has a new room
strangely built by Death, you saying you must leave us,
but I know you have been a builder too
and, perhaps, it now is there so you can continue
to live with us, move in with us, to be felt and not seen,
build some kind of other life for us, as if the room
will always be found down a hall to the right
leading to a new spot where we'll sit with our memories,
so many and so vivid, and smile about your good life.

As I stare into one of many paintings
you made with a brush and one hand
I remember it at peace in the casket
that held you surrounded by the softest white,
what appeared to be satin, looked more like clouds,
I know it was just the body where you lived,
the one rather frail and difficult to feed, but
the one we had to hug, to now hold when we want to.
I am sure you noticed we now own your artwork
it hangs in the new room, and I take walks in
that short hallway, thankful you loved birds too.

Another place meant a great deal to your living,
in a deep part of you there was a place for the sea
you have mentioned it, but not during any talks with me,
and speaking of talks we certainly had one
that stands above the rest, still loud and word by word,
kind of a bit worrisome for me, when I sat with you
and asked for the hand of your youngest daughter--
I always hoped that meant something to you.

Today I no longer have the opportunity to ask you much
other than when I am alone and wish to say thanks
not only for her, for how she is so much like you,
always able to be selfless, I know she carries this on,
when, really, she should be caring for herself,
a trait she asked me to help her with, and we went to
the beach named Bayfield**, one of many you treasured,
the many where you were able to find a shoreline
to be a boy once again, choosing certain treasures
brought there by the waves, the same ones we thanked
one sunny winter day, where we too were in love,
giving the shells you chose back to the sea.

* He worked at ST. FX University for 22 years, in Antigonish, N.S., as well as various other positions there.

**Bayfield Beach, just out side Antigonish, N.S..

Chad Norman’s most recent books are Selected & New Poems, from Mosaic Press, and Waking Up On The Wrong Side of The Sky, from Grant Block Press. 

His speaking/reading tour of the UK last Fall was a huge success. And presently he is arranging a tour to include visits to Italian universities to help celebrate a new collection, Squall: Poems In the Voice Of Mary Shelley, due out Spring 2020 from Guernica Editions.

See also: The Birds (with no disrespect to Alfred), a poem by Chad Norman

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