The people that come into our lives
Crossing paths, or deeply intertwining
Become the scaffolding
On which we fix our own
Affections and inspirations
Precious, even when paths diverge

In ways that go beyond understanding
Our lives become knotted together
Like ivy climbing brickwork heights
Impossible to scale alone, but secure
In the companionship of others
Forging their own paths to the sun

What happens when one of those plants
Becomes uprooted from the soil of vitality
Or senselessly dwindles and dries
Crossing into the land beyond life?
How do we disentangle their existence
Without ripping apart our own?

Pause – the skeleton of stems they leave
Was never meant to be pruned
Or plucked out and uprooted
We grow around them, and with them
Onwards, upwards, outwards, inwards
Cradling their history in our own stories

Note: I heard today that a very dear friend lost someone who mattered deeply to them. This was in some ways a complicated relationship, but a very great loss. I always find myself so uncomfortable with the familiar words of condolence – they feel so inadequate, and there are so many circumstances they seem saccharine and out of place. Yet in one of the most beautiful parts of being human, we do absorb a bit of the grief carried by people we love. I wanted to give something to this friend, meeting them in their place of sorrow with love. This poem is what came out – in love and remembrance.

Note 2: This one lingered in drafts for a long time. I finally pressed publish on 19 September, the day of the online memorial for our family’s last remaining grandparent, Grandma Joanne. I haven’t been in the right place to write something specifically for her, but I wanted to finally put this into the world in her honour.

Photo by A.C. Smith