Jane Kenyon died of leukemia in 1995. But she left us her voice in this poem, written late in her life, as if to reassure us. I came across this poem the other night in bed and it made me appreciate the gift of my own life and the gift of poets like Kenyon who share their lives, and sometimes their deaths, with us.
Notes from the Other Side
I divested myself of despair
and fear when I came here.
Now there is no more catching
one’s own eye in the mirror,
there are no bad books, no plastic,
no insurance premiums, and of course
no illness. Contrition
does not exist, nor gnashing
of teeth. No one howls as the first
clod of earth hits the casket.
The poor we no longer have with us.
Our calm hearts strike only the hour,
and God, as promised, proves
to be mercy clothed in light.
Jane Kenyon, 1943-1995
April is National Poetry Month. The world needs more poetry.