to have and to hold by Kathleen Spivack

to have and to hold

and he said to me
live and be happy

coming back coming back

and I heard him in the flowers,
the tender new leaves, little hands

and I heard him in the sky;
the rooftops, as in archetypal
photos and I heard him in the dental
office also; everywhere:
he, saying, live.

be happy.
Listen – heard it – give
this attention. remember.
that whispering, was it the wind;
the ocean telling its consolations?

new life, the foal
unfolding wetly at its mothers’
side and tottering to stand?

the upturned flowers
in their simplicity;
their opened eyes?


The sadness was finished; the failures.

The night sky
didn’t trouble as it once had;

and his great swollen
broken body
was made whole again,

entering the cosmos
in a great dust/ light/ energy/ particle/swirl:
the glare and white whoosh of the Yes.
live and be
happy Kathleen

he said (as he turned).

And I would.

by Kathleen Spivack

Editor’s Note: Random punctuation, line lengths, and emphasis give this poem a haphazard atmosphere at first glance. However, upon careful rereading, one realizes that the narrator is conveying an important life lesson through the passing of a loved one. Some voices retain strength even after they are gone.