Continuing our focus on student writing from The Clearing in Door County, Wisconsin, it is my pleasure to present a poem by Elmae Passineau.
Elmae is a retired principal living in Wausau, Wis. She keeps active by teaching a communications class at her local community college.
During our class time together, I was struck by Elmaes ability to focus and hold a thought or theme, seeing it to its fruition. She brings to her writing a lifetime of education, philosophy, motherhood and world travels. In addition, I admire the way she mixes the mundane with the profound, which you will see in this poem.
Death Slips In
Death slips in to check me out
Is she ready?
Has she divested herself of nonessentials?
(What about those Hummels and that
Has she withdrawn from social obligations?
(What about book club and dinners with
Has she given up on the human race?
Grown bitter and cynical?
Well, there are war and pillage, of course,
brutality and neglect,
rape and murder,
terror and torture,
greed and waste
Ah, but there are also Lily and Thomas,
who need me still
to show them the Milky Way,
to read them The Little Prince,
to sing You Are My Sunshine,
to bake sugar cookies,
to build clay turtles,
to plant purple pansies,
to ride the Ferris wheel,
to tell them about their great-grandfather
Ah, Death murmurs, shes not ready.
Many of us at a certain age can certainly relate to the sentiment of that poem, as no doubt those with lives ahead of them can as well. Savor Elmaes clarity and her unique ability with words, her interesting use of lists, her clear and delightful images, the juxtaposition of positive and negative. Savor and enjoy!
Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet who has written several books of poetry and formerly wrote a column called The Writers Garret for this newspaper.
from the July 18-24, 2007, issue