Featured Poem: The Art We Have to Master


By Lorraine Walker Williams
Southwest Florida Branch


Dying is the art we have to master. It seems to say—not death;
          Late love settles into us as spring romances never could.
Exhibition Notes SFMOMA


A full moon slips from dark clouds
to break night from its grip
like a last breath, a gasp and release.

Death is a trickster, a tease,
imminent, then it pulls back,
fills a corner of the room
ready to consume what’s left
after last words are spoken.

When I learned that you had died,
death consumed me. I became still,
sat with it, staring into the room,
blinded by sorrow. This surprised me.

Surrounded by reminders of our life together,
I remembered our first conversation about touch,
the need for connection when you live alone.

I wanted to touch what had meaning for us;
a map of early San Francisco, the reclaimed
table we chose for our First Anniversary,
the framed painting above the bed.

I did not shed a tear until my fingers slid along
the glass hummingbirds; one found in Aspen,
the other your Valentine gift, saying the bird
needed a mate. Tears streaked my cheeks,
a release.

This morning, in fading moonlight, tears brim,
shedding into the black hole of absence as I write.

So, I wrap myself in the shawl of memory,
settling into the loss of late life love.

I can’t shake the feeling you are gone.




  1. Patricia R Setser says:

    Your expressed thoughts are stunningly beautiful. So touching, so true. I am sure your gift has touched many.

  2. Sharon French says:

    This is such a beautiful and touching poem. I had the joy of having a late in life love. His loss to me is exquisitely expressed. Thank you, Lorraine!

  3. Christina Laurie says:

    Such a tender, tearful memory of a special person. I have felt this too as I lost my husband. THanks.

  4. Lois Batchelor Howard says:

    Lorraine, you are a beautiful writer; you capture your grief so poignantly that the reader feels your pain…and identifies with pain of their own, and still not losing their empathy with you. Thank you for being such a ‘touching’ poet.

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