A Blessing for David

In a writing workshop with Carolyn Flynn, I was working on a hermit poem, a poem that takes on the shell of any form: recipe, invoice, email, shopping list, bible readings etc.  She offered her participants a very long list of possible ‘shells’ our writing could take and ‘bible readings’ jumped out to me.  I was writing about my dad and it took the hermit shell of a prayer. A blessing.

I was reflecting upon a conversation I often have with my 88 year dad and his wish to leave his body. As his dementia creeps in, he is not as able as he would like to be and he is tired. That said, he is having a wonderful day to day life so it’s not a complaint he speaks of, rather a yearning to be done, to be finished.

I read my poem to him and he snuffled, got out his hanky and wiped his eyes. I asked if he wanted me to read it again. He said, ‘Oh, that’s a wonderful poem. Yes please.’  I read it again and he paused. ‘It’s lovely, but it’s missing a line: the answer lies in the soil’, he laughed.

A Blessing for David

Peace be to my father, hungry for life

To be redeemed. Spare him his ailments

As he sits in his recliner chair wanting the night

To come. The long sleep from which there is no morning.

He, a prodigal son who has wandered far from home,

Jests it will be hot where he is bound upon his death.

Yet, with unbridled fervour, he sings, ‘The Lord

Is my shepherd, I shall not want.’ He recants

The lines and wonders if can climb the stairs to heaven.

May the burdens of his life be lifted, his sins absolved.

May he, like his wife declared on her death bed,

Be at peace and know that all is well.

Through the portal he was born, he arrived innocent

And he will leave as he came—he need not be afraid.

His body cremated, will leave no trace of the man he was.

Only the stories we resurrect remain.

And his teaching and legacy will be:

‘The answer lies in the soil.’

Glory be to the sun, the moon, the stars

The magpie and the cockatoo.


Photograph: Wendy Haynes. David, Dad, in wonder, while sitting by the creek looking at the beautiful pebbles.

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Jennifer Simpson
Jennifer Simpson
1 month ago

This brought me to tears.
I`m not sure why.
Perhaps it reminded me of my parents in their closing weeks, or perhaps it hits closer to home, making me think of myself.

1 month ago

What beautiful prose your created for your Dad. It resonated for me and my Mother’s lucid wish. A good death after a long life.

1 month ago

Wendy, that’s a lovely poem that you wrote for your Dad, and his simple addition. xxoo

14 days ago

SO meaningful knowing a bit about your journey with your dear dad. LOVE TO YOU