Thursday, August 14, 2014

Out Where God Is

Joshua Thompson, grandson of my sister Ouida, took this wonderful photograph of the old growth forest nave in Seward Park, Seattle, Washington, where we scattered some of my wife Annette's ashes on her birthday, which is Joshua's birthday as well.  I chose this sight, because it reminded me of a song Annette had written years ago, when we lived in Nashville, and she was a staff writer for Polygram Music.

Out Where God Is
By Annette Cotter

My daddy was a born again bible reading Christian.
Problem was that Sunday was his one day off a week.
So daddy explained to Mama even Jesus loved his fishing.
And me and him would hold an early service at the creek.

Out where God is, where the meadow lark
Proclaims the living word.
Out where God is
Where the spirit whispers in the grass
And sings in every bird.
Out where God is....Out where God is.

Joshua's girlfriend Amy flew in from Panama City to surprise him on his birthday.   Charlotte, Joshua, Amy, and I scattered ashes in the eternal forest.  We offered readings from poems and songs, even sang some. 


By Patty Griffin

  Mary you're covered in roses, you're covered in ashes
You're covered in rain
You're covered in babies, you're covered in slashes
You're covered in wilderness, you're covered in stains....

Mary she moves behind me
She leaves her fingerprints everywhere
Everytime the snow drifts, everytime the sand shifts
Even when the night lifts, she's always there....

Long Afternoon at the Edge of Little Sister Pond
By Mary Oliver

As for life, 
I'm humbled, 
I'm without words
sufficient to say

how it has been hard as flint, 
and soft as a spring pond, 
both of these
and over and over, 

and long pale afternoons besides, 
and so many mysteries
beautiful as eggs in a nest, 
still unhatched ....

There is hardly time to think about

stopping, and lying down at last
to the long afterlife, to the tenderness
yet to come, when
time will brim over the singular pond, and become forever....

By Marge Piercy

always with cats, the end
comes creeping over the two of you—
she stops eating, his back legs
no longer support him, she leans
to your hand ....
Then there is the long weepy
trip to the vets, the carrier no
longer necessary, the last time
in your lap. The injection is quick.
Simply they stop breathing
in your arms. You bring them
home to bury in the flower garden,
planting a bush over a deep grave.
That is how I would like to cease,
held in a lover’s arms and quickly
fading to black like an old fashioned
movie embrace....
I want someone who loves me
there, not a doctor with forty patients
and his morality to keep me sort
of, kind of alive....

We read these in the forest, Out Where God Is.
Charlotte Cassady, daughter of Annette's sister Pat, sang the great southern classic, "Will the Circle be Unbroken," a beautiful interpretation, with her dedication: "This song is for the woman who taught me to sing it and to believe that the human spirit trumps all else."  Charlotte explained, "When  I was 12 or 13 years old, Aunt Annette began teaching me to play the guitar.  I had to learn to read chords.  While she and Bill and Mama visited in the living room, I sat in the back bedroom with the Takamine guitar Annette had picked out for me and practiced from a songbook she gave me.  The first song I learned was "Banks of the Ohio."  I called Aunt Annette back there to the back bedroom to hear it.  I played one or two stanzas and, before I even finished, Aunt Annette ran out into the livingroom and yelled, "goddamn, Pat, Charlotte can sing.  She's got a good voice.  She has a sense of the song."  From then on I felt confident about this.  I was sure Aunt Annette was saying this because she believed it to be true, and so I believed it to.  And all my life, singing would be a source of pleasure and uninhibited expression for me."  
After scattering Annette's ashes, Joshua, Amy, Charlotte, and I sang together, "Happy Birthday to you.  Happy Birthday to you.  Happy Birthday, dear Annette.  Happy Birthday to you."



Cheyenne Palisades said...

That was damn beautiful, Bill.


Amy Smith said...

It was a lovely day. Thank you for letting me share it with you.

Amy Smith said...

It was a lovely day. Thank you for letting me share it with you.


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