Friday, June 07, 2024

Poetry Friday: Funeral

This week my husband and I watched a funeral on Facebook Live, a funeral for a married couple, missionaries both in their very early twenties, killed in gang violence last month in Haiti. The young man used to be in a playgroup I went to with my child years ago -- but not that many years -- in Port-au-Prince; while we moms, including his, met together, our children would play and learn Bible stories. At the funeral, one of the pastors read a poem he'd written where he grieved these two, and don't we so often turn to poems, from the Bible or elsewhere, when there's an unbearable loss? So I wrote one too, not so much because it helps as because I'm not sure what else to do, except to pray for those dads, who both spoke with tears in their voices, and those moms, whose grief is so deep, and all the others who have lost these two particular young people. And to pray, too, for all the thousands and thousands and thousands of Haitians who have lost more than I can imagine, their homes and their livelihoods and their country and worst of all, the people they loved, in the last few years.



I know the flamboyan trees were
covered with red blossoms
when it happened
because it was May
in Haiti
and I know
the sound of gunshots
and the sounds of grief
in Haiti

The sounds of grief in Missouri
are not quite as loud and unrestrained
as they lay to rest
two young people who loved Haiti
but the grief is just as real
We don’t grieve as those who have no hope,
they say
Death didn’t win,
they say
And of course those things are true
but you can’t help crying
as you look at their wedding photos from just two years ago
and as you think of
the two thousand five hundred people
already killed
in the first three months of this year
in Haiti

I know it was a beautiful day
when it happened
because it’s always a beautiful day
in Haiti


©Ruth Bowen Hersey



A flamboyan tree in Haiti

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is here.


TraceyKJ said...

The crimson Flamboyan tree flowers echo the impact of this tragic loss. I am so sorry for you and all those who knew and loved this young couple.

jama said...

So sorry to hear of your loss. Early 20's? So tragic. Thanks for sharing your poem -- so poignant, so heartfelt.

Bookeedstudio/Jan said...

Ruth, I appreciate your bringing to the World this post. When I heard about this couple's passing, I wondered if you knew them & now I learn you were part of the young man's youngest years.
I am thinking of the families who lost this young couple. I couldn't help thinking of your long service in the country you have described here so beautifully, in terms of its people & physical charm.
The Flamboyan Tree is just one image of many I remember from you, describing how much the whole of the country was a gift to you, as you & your husband, were, to it.

Denise Krebs said...

Oh, Ruth, I'm so sorry for your loss and the loss for all the loved ones. I read about this in the news too. Your poem describing the flamboyan tree is bittersweet. I'm so sad about Haiti, but I know for you it is a piece of yourself that breaks there is that sadness and loss.

mbhmaine said...

My husband read about this tragedy in the news and shared it with me: I thought of you immediately, imagining the pain of the families and your pain as well. And all the pain of the tragedies unfolding in Haiti. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt poem.

Rose Cappelli said...

Such a heartfelt poem, Ruth. Your sadness and grief come through. You are in my thoughts.

Marcie Flinchum Atkins said...

Thank you for sharing this personal connection to this tragic story. The flamboyan trees really ground us. So heartbreaking!

Linda Mitchell said...

Oh, Ruth. I heard the news and wondered if you knew them...and you did. I'm so sorry. A colleague at my school is going home to Haiti this summer. They assure me they will be safe...but my goodness...what a mess. What tragedy. Writing a poem is the right thing to do. I felt every word. Thank you. Prayers for you too as you live with more loss in Haiti.

Tabatha said...

I hadn't heard about this tragedy so I just was reading about it. Terrible. The photos from the funeral are heart-wrenching. The ending of your poem is perfect.
Thank you for adding my post to the round-up xo

laurasalas said...

Oh, Ruth. I have obsessed a bit about this horrible news story over the past couple of weeks. Probably because the couple looked so very much like they could be our younger daughter, who did missions work overseas for years. Or any number of her young married friends. So besides being just a sad, sad story, it also felt so very close to home. And that's me, strangers to this young couple. I can only imagine how it feels to you, having been connected with the family. I'm so sorry for this loss to your community and to you. Thank you for this powerful, utterly personal poem. Sending love to you.

Janice Scully said...

Such a tragedy and loss of life. Your poem and the flowers are a lovely tribute to this young couple. I also think the ending of your poem is perfect.

Michelle Kogan said...

So sorry to hear about this young couple, that flamboyan tree tragically fits so well with your poem, and your poem cries out pain and grief, thanks for sharing, sending thoughts your way.

Janet said...

When I read about this couple, I wondered if you knew them. I was pretty sure you would. It seemed too painful to ask you about. They were so young, and seemed so mature in their sense of purpose and resolve.

Your poems always go to the heart.

Karen Edmisten said...

Oh, Ruth, this is just heartwrenching. I'm so sorry; what a terrible, terrible loss. Your poem is beautiful and that repetition of "in Haiti" feels and sounds like grief — the way we reflect, repeat, and ruminate on everything about the people we've lost.

Love and hugs to you. Too many losses, too many deaths in Haiti. Again, I'm so sorry. xo