Thursday, November 12, 2009

Poems for Prayers

Since I posted my get well card for Brian Salchert a couple of months ago, his sister has been kind enough to keep me informed of his health. While his hip turned out to be not as bad as originally thought, it is not expected that Brian will regain the use of his legs — a condition complicated, apparently, by a blood clot on his spine.

Through it all, Brian had been trying to use a laptop computer someone set up for him, but therapy and other activities left him with little time. Then, late this morning, I received a new message from Jean:

Brian is in the hospital again. This time he has pancreatitis. He needs a lot of prayers.

I think if I were to substitute the word “poems” for “prayers,” Brian would understand.

11.12.2009 #2
11.12.2009 #1


Elisabeth said...

Thank you for sharing this with us, William. It feels to be such an intimate time, such a precious time and Brian's last few postings in August, which I looked at just now resonate even more given what you have told us here.

Your Sunrise poem, the line of books on your mantelpiece glowing in the light of the sun, a city about to awake, is brilliant.

A number of years ago in 1996, here in Australia, in Tasmania to be exact, we suffered a dreadful massacre in which a lone gun man killed thirty five people and wounded twenty one. The victims were either staff or those visiting the historic site called Port Arthur, a place where some of the most allegedly hard edged convicts were restrained on arrival in Australia during the 1800s.

A man named Walter Mikac lost his wife and two daughters in the massacre. He was a pharmacist at the time but since then he has dealt with his grief by setting up a trust, the Allana and Madeline Foundation in memory of his wife and daughters. He now works as an inspirational and motivational speaker.

At a recent talk he gave, Mikac told the story of how one day some time after the massacre as he walked along a busy street he saw a familiar face in the crowd of people approaching him.

The person he recognised in the crowd simultaneously seemed to recognise Mikac and almost instantly turned on his heel to walk in the opposite direction.

Walter Mikac decided that he must speak to this man then and there or he would never speak to him again.

He followed the man and as he came close he sped up but Mikac continued to follow until he finally reached the man and tapped him on the shoulder.

The man then turned to face Mikac. Mikac saw that his eyes were filled with tears and he was sobbing.

'You don't need to say anything,' Mikac said to the man. 'We all know that it happened.'

This is as much as I know of this story. I was told it second hand but all week long it has stayed with me.

It is the story of grief and how we deal with tragedy and loss - how some can face it, like Walter Mikac and others feel a need to take themselves off and bear their grief alone.

Your reference to Brian made me think about this story yet again. I hope you do not mind my sharing it with you on your blog.

Grief and sadness are often the hardest feelings to share.

Poetry as you suggest becomes a prayer.

William Michaelian said...

Elisabeth, thanks very much for sharing the story about Walter Mikac, and for taking the time to do so. Thanks, too, for your kind words about my sunrise photo. That one really struck Brian’s fancy, and so in my thoughts I have dedicated it to him.

As it happens, late last night, I heard from a man who had been a friend and co-worker of Brian’s in Wisconsin back in the 1970s. They’ve been out of touch for over thirty years. He told me that on a lark, he had searched his son’s name on Google, and found Brian’s name in a link with his son’s. It turns out that back in 1976, Brian had written a sonnet about the boy’s birth, which took place during an ice storm. This was his friend’s first knowledge of the poem.