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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Magic of Letters

Don Fiester
Oct. 12, 1923-Sept. 11, 2012
I love the magic of letters, those combinations of lines, curves, circles that, when grouped in a certain way, arranged in a particular order, have the power to move armies, connect lovers, start riots, give comfort. When I lose someone dear to me I seek out the poltice of poetry, hoping that in someone else's choice and arrangement of the letters I'll be touched where I need to be touched, a cool hand on my heart. I often find it in the following poem by Mary Oliver. It lives in my closet. I pulled it out last week to remind myself that my father was a bridegroom who took the world into his arms.

When Death Comes 

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
Thank you, Mary, and all of you who arrange curves and circles and lines into soothing, beautiful expression.

Fran McDowell


  1. Fran, thank you for sharing this wonderful poem.

  2. Fran, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Thanks for posting this beautiful poem and tribute.