For Those Lost To Us In These Last Many Days
THE LITTLEST LAZARUS
How can you have died? No, no. ‘Tooo young, tooo young,’
hoot the owls in the night pines…
How can you have died with your wings spread out
two little silver-gray fans with vanes perfectly aligned,
literally zipped shut so as to make your feathers air-tight,
impervious to being split by wind…
All so you could fly. So you could sing. And fly.
Weren’t you meant to remain airborne little dear one?
I can see you fledged from the two-hundred year old
cottonwood overhead, some branch way up high…
Did your species build the nest too far up?
Are there mean old birds who stalk
about the cottonwood castles like mad Medeas
bent on butchering/ murdering the children?
Are there wicked stepbrothers who try to make all death
look like an accident?
Or did you, like smallest Ikaros, just push your luck,
so excited to be alive, so eager to do what you saw
grown-ups do, you just rushed to the edge
before you were strong enough to sustain your weight,
and your tiny body of near mere feathers alone…
fell down down down instead
of pulling back on the little stick near your heart
til you hit the scoop of the updraught…
til you caught the wind-ladder upward
…later returning to the nest all cocky and proud.
Instead little dear thing, you lie here in the road,
like thin silverware tossed into a pile
yet the scrollwork, the filigree, the parabolas
of your bones, your meant-to-fly feathers
still somehow, so filled with life.
How can this be… Isn’t dead, dead?
Or is some huge soulfulness released in death,
that does good works in corporeal worlds yet?
I bend, I take you little thing, lift your scrawny legs,
Put the palm of my hand behind your head.
I move you, to the grass, away from black tires,
just to a quiet soft place where belly up,
you can sprawl and smile
and see the stars…
I walk across the road to home,
gently brushing tiny bugs from my hands…
creatures who know to come dressed
in their little black mourning suits,
the infinitesimal pall-bearers who
take the dead down into humus at last.
Two snows, two springs from now,
some weed, wild vine, some accidental
tree, all not yet born now… will grow here.
Whatever falls into this earth
made fertile by your life dear one,
will live on as juniper, pine, catalpa,
chokecherry, sweet pea, nopalito…
and as the old people say,
will have a soul twice-born —
part wild green and growing–
and part essential small raptor
who was born with such courage for soaring.
by DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, ©2000/2009.