The Shine Journal - The Light Left Behind

Journeys Through Grief and Beyond

Richard H. Peake


Evening Shadows


Shadows scatter shards of  sunlight    

shining arrows parting the doorway onto bright floor

fighting darkness on the threshold as crickets

hum their joy of life watching the sunset glow.

I’m sad because we do not know

how few evenings we have left to imagine

flights of  swallows and kestrels swooping down

to dine amidst the rainbow grasshopper flares.

Kaleidoscopic wings snatch at our joy of life

as birds scatter insects in air like shattered glass

fragile as our lives. It is not easy letting go,

not knowing how many radiant evenings are left.

Contrasting light and darkness matches my mood,

gloomy because we two must depart joyous life

so soon, but reveling in the last light of day

—fearful sailors of traversing an unknown sea—

we may not know ourselves traveling west forever,

yet we will prolong our leave-taking

as long as we have heart and breath and eyes

to watch sun cast shadows through the doorway.


Answering the Summons

            … the readiness is all…


 They said Joe was in St. Mary’s.       

I visited to cheer him up.

He’d always been a cheerful man,

friendly, ready to help a friend.

He was a pillar of his church.

I found Joe much changed, pale and worn. 

Looking in his eyes, I saw Death

had summoned him. He was afraid,

a man looking in an abyss

where screaming tortured creatures

plead for a moment’s peace.

Shocked, I heard the complaint

of a desperate man. “My doctors

tell me my cancer is inoperable.

All they can do is control the pain

while I wait.” I was surprised.

I had thought Joe truly ready,

sure of heavenly reward

like my cousin Sallie, who required

her mourners to sing happy songs

at her funeral so sure she was.

What do you tell someone who fears

the end he thought he welcomed,

somebody who leads life assured

of eternity—but falters

when Death knocks? I tried to find words

to comfort, but nothing I said

removed the stark terror I saw

in Joe’s eyes. Years later, I know

my time grows short. When Death seeks

me I hope to out face him,

trusting my end is my beginning—

loathe to go, yet ready for journey’s end.


Richard H. Peake hails from Texas. His recent publications include poems in Avocet, Boundless 2012, The Red River Review, Shangri-la Shack, Jimson Weed, The Texas Poetry Calendar 2012, The Book of the Year PST 2012, and elsewhere.


Contact Editor: Pamela Tyree Griffin

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