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My Friend Sara

I met Sara about 25 years ago through mutual tech writer friends in Marin. She’s a published poet from Ireland and was working her day job to make ends meet. Her pen name is Sara Berkeley ( Back then she was married to a musician and with her daughter Jessie lived in West Marin. When we moved to Chico, we started to lose touch but followed each other on FB. She divorced, took up cycling, went to nursing school, graduated and became a hospice nurse. Then she moved to the east coast, met a wonderful man and remarried. A beautiful woman in so many ways, she’s now in her 50s.

She wrote to me on FB Messenger yesterday:

"Wood Thrush

Where I turn at the long barn

it’s still good. Beyond the creek

and Mill Hook, past the deserted summer camp

the road goes inward to a wary place,

somewhere damage was done.

My business is at the trailer park.

Outside their double-wide

bucket chairs, a fridge.

Bikes scattered on the rutted road.

Kids all inside.

My visit

bears witness

to generational pain.

I take it in by listening,

by feel, the suffering

finds a place in me.

I drive home through the flutter

of scintillate gold leaf, scatter

of chipmunk and squirrel;

an October so warm, cicadas

still flex their tymbals.

Slowly over the miles

I empty out, and into my

hollowed out self

pours a two-note song:

wood thrush, rise and fall

simultaneously sung.

Some of the things I’ve seen

still have a beat inside me:

suffering of the dying,

counterweight of trees aflame,

pull of tide by the moon,

sandhill cranes against dream.

It’s really a hospice poem, but is also informed a lot by the landscape I drive through here as I go around seeing my patients, and the stark differences between the many seasons (so many than four) in upstate New York. I was so stuck writing this poem, could not finish it and your photo and phrase gave me the inspiration to finish. Thank you! I hope you and Kathy are safe and well. I’m actually in Dublin right now, getting my dad out of hospital and home with care following some health issues. So Christmas with my dad for the first time in years. Plus I got married (eloped!) in October, so am now Sara Lawson! Finding love at any stage in life is so wonderful, George and I are very happy to have found each other. Love to you Joan, keep taking those wonderful photos (as if you could stop!)


I so admire and love her!

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