Friday, May 30, 2014

Poetry Friday - Sorrow

I've been away for a few weeks, not a surprising turn at the end of the semester. When I come down from the high of April and posting on poetry every day, I am always faced with finals, graduation, and wrapping up the academic year.

However, it's not just the end of school that puts me in a gray place each May. On May 5th I remember my father on his birthday, and again on May 7th, the anniversary of his death. This year marked 5 years without him. On May 10th I observed what would have been my parent's 62nd wedding anniversary. All of these dates are closely followed by graduation, an event celebrated here at UR each year on Mother's day.

This year was especially difficult, as the university community was shocked and saddened by the tragic death of two members of the women's basketball staff in a terrible accident. I knew both of these women. The first was Ginny Doyle. I looked forward to seeing her every spring, as she brought me recruits interested in education. In nearly 14 years working together she never called me Tricia, even though I insisted. She always called me Dr. Stohr. So, I took to calling her Coach Doyle, never Ginny. Over the years she introduced me to a number of remarkable young scholar athletes with a passion for teaching, many of them becoming my students. The second was Natalie Lewis. Natalie was a student of mine, but more than that, she was a connection to home. When I first taught Natalie we made that connection that only folks from Buffalo can make. We talked about food, things we missed, and locations we both knew and loved. I learned quickly that Natalie grew up just a block from the tiny apartment my husband lived in, and the one we shared for a few short months after being wed. Even after her classes with me were complete, she stopped by to visit. I went to see her swim. She came by during student teaching to raid my bookshelves and borrow materials. When she took the job at UR, I would often stop by to say hello on my walk to work. She had a big heart, an old soul, and so much joy that you couldn't help but smile when you saw her.

So, I've been silent for a few weeks, trying to push past the gray and back into the sunshine. It would be so much easier if Mother Nature would cooperate. It was 95 here on Wednesday and 65 on Thursday. Many of the days have been overcast.

In light of the recent death of Maya Angelou, I've been reading her poems, but I imagine lots of folks are sharing her work today. Instead, I'm allowing myself just one last wallow before I pick myself up and dust myself off.

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Sorrow like a ceaseless rain
      Beats upon my heart.
People twist and scream in pain, —
Dawn will find them still again;
This has neither wax nor wane,
      Neither stop nor start.

People dress and go to town;
      I sit in my chair.
All my thoughts are slow and brown:
Standing up or sitting down
Little matters, or what gown
      Or what shoes I wear.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Diane at Random Noodling. Happy poetry Friday friends.


  1. Embrace the sadness for without it, you can't appreciate the happy times. Wishing you a summer of joy, Tricia!

  2. My favorite poem about loss and grief is the simple W.S. Merwin "Separation." But, I love this one, too:


    It appears now that there is only one
    age and it knows
    nothing of age as the flying birds know
    nothing of the air they are flying through
    or of the day that bears them up
    through themselves
    and I am a child before there are words
    arms are holding me up in a shadow
    voices murmur in a shadow
    as I watch one patch of sunlight moving
    across the green carpet
    in a building
    gone long ago and all the voices
    silent and each word they said in that time
    silent now
    while I go on seeing that patch of sunlight

    - W.S Merwin

    I am so sorry for your loss. May the echo of your friends' voices still reverberate.

  3. I'm sorry for all that ceaseless rain, Tricia. Knowing how Coach Doyle and Natalie died must have made dealing with their loss all that much more difficult. We always like to think that our loved ones didn't know it was coming or weren't afraid. Sometimes we need a good wallow before we dust ourselves off. Edna St. Vincent Millay is a good person to wallow with, and I hope Maya Angelou can help with the dusting off. Hugs!

  4. Ginny's and Natalie's accident was so tragic; I'm so sorry you've lost two cherished friends and colleagues. I'm glad poetry has provided some comfort and solace. May is your tough month, April will be mine.

  5. I have missed reading your postings. Your poetry month was exceptional - truly - and you have me hooked as a regular follower forever. The recent tragedy at your university was shared by many of us from a distance but had to have been much much more painful up close.

  6. I'm sorry to hear that you were directly touched by that terrible tragedy. On top of your other sad anniversaries, it must have been that one more thing that sat you down, as Millay writes. I've missed your posts, and hope starting again will bring you good days of joy in the midst of the sadness.

  7. Like the other commenters before me, I am so sorry for all your sadness this month, Tricia. Before carrying on, we all need time to wallow, so take it without guilt. Wishing you sunnier days in June.

  8. I, too, am sorry for this difficult month, but I am thankful to be a part of a community where you could lay it before us (along with a poem) and allow us to gather round you, hold you up, help you move on.

  9. I wish I knew what to say to comfort you in such a tough time. Senseless loss is so difficult to process. Sorrow is like a ceaseless rain, but when it is through, the sun shines and the flower blooms and we see life anew. That is my hope for you. Thanks for sharing and for having the courage to be honest in your writing.

  10. I'm so glad I stopped by your blog today, Tricia. This past year has been full of gray for me too, especially the past month. Thank you for sharing this. Here's hoping summer will renew us.

  11. I'm sorry your spring has been so full of loss. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful poem. It speaks so eloquently about loss.

  12. How very, very sad. Just as Spring and all its loveliness arrives, so does sorrow.

  13. I'm so sorry for all your losses. Those anniversaries can be really tough. "Sorrow like ceaseless rain/beats across my heart" is beautiful to me in its emotional resonance.

  14. Dear Tricia, thanks for reaching out to everyone. We all have seasons of loss -- times of year when anniversaries and birthdays of those we've lost make us sad. Millay's poem captures that slowed-down feeling which comes with grief. Sending you a virtual hug.

  15. Lovely, moving, thank you.

  16. Edna really understood the emotional landscape. What a wonderful poet.

  17. Oh Tricia, what a tough winter/spring you've had. Thinking kind thoughts to you and your loved ones at home and at the University.