The Shine Journal - The Light Left Behind

Journeys Through Grief and Beyond

The Death of a Poet


Sally Arango Renata


They find him on the floor,

numb, unblinking.

Red lights interrupt

his appointment

with the dark angels

he holds like lovers.

He grips their hems

even as pale shadows

stand in haloed light

to run lines, tubes, anything

to save his life.


This is home now, this room

where no one has wept,

and there is no touching

without plastic gloves.

He lies on his back staring

at hymns and prayers

that hang from the ceiling

unaware they are for him,

as are the daffodils

that sit on the small white porcelain sink.

The Winter Before the Flood


Sally Arango Renata


(our last conversation)

The winter before the flood he crawled into himself.

He slept through ice singing on branches,

the clamor of buds pressing through bark,

he slept as water bounded past rocks

and trees to cover his nose and feet.

He woke to koi tickling his toes,

to weightless waves of morphine.

If you have a place I have some fish

he said, some are fourteen inches.

With child-like delight he swam

through doors of shell castles,

mastered the movement of his once

frozen legs. I can walk now, he said

talking to me, or to someone named Tom.

That's great I say, wishing we had talked

like this before the flood,

before the last notes of his song.


Sally Arango Renata has been published in a number of venues including The Shine Jounal, Ken*again, Pemmican and six poetry anthologies.She was twice a Pushcart Prize nominee, placed numerous times in the IBPC, and was named Poetry Fellow 2009-2010 by the South Carolina Arts Commission.



 Rust scallops the red wheelbarrow
 left in mud by the shed. But it still carries
 the mass of white rock that has to be cleared
 from the garden.
 The handle on the short shovel is broken,
 but held right, it cuts sharp through stone,
 carries the mound of clippings,
 weeds, the alien balls of roots.
 The rose could use morning sun, composted
 dung. I trim dried buds and leaves.
 More than one thorn penetrates my gloves.
 I take them off to mound the soil around
 the crown of the root,
 leave them off to poke my fingers
 in sandy soil to plant seeds. Peppers,
 tomatoes, broccoli, collards, I'll can
 what I can't eat I'll
 trade with neighbor for pears
 when their tree is weighed, breaking,
 It was called a Victory Garden during the Big War
 when sugar and meat were rationed,
 but this garden will be called Forgiveness.
 I'll surround it with marigolds,
 so the souls in this war
 can find their way home.
 Leaving the Nursing Home it Rained
 I'll call it rehab, because neither of us want to think of urine
 soaked wheelchairs or bodies parked
 till they die.
 Rehab implies recovery.
 I want you to recover.
 I want to map your days, exclude tubes,
 urinals, plates of food a ravenous dog
 wouldn't eat. I want to take your pain,
 stuff it in a black crow, send it off
 into a state of harmlessness.
 It shouldn't be like this.
 On your last day I want you to rise
 to sun burned across mountains,
 the delicate scent of wild geraniums,
 joy will emblazon your heart
 and you will fly.
 The ground is flat,
 so assaulted by sun it is white
 with dots of houses, a tree, a pig.
 There is one road, three dusty trucks
 and a mailman who drives a red Cadillac.
 His dog sits like a person beside him.
 Behind the flatness are red rocks,
 towering clay totums.
 The one I climb is a turtle.
 I believe it is sacred.
 When I am on his back I see
 other houses, other roads
 other worlds.

Bio: Sally Arango Renata is a folk artist and writer who lives along the coast of South Carolina. She was recently named as Poetry Fellow for South Carolina by the SC Arts Commission

Motivation for EACH work:
Marigolds: Gardening is my meditation. As I planted my garden, I thought of Victory Gardens - how gardens are now a necessity and  we are again at war. When I planted the marigolds I thought of the Day of the Dead in Mexican culture - how the petals of Marigolds are spread from the cemetery to one's home, so the souls can find their way.
 Leaving the Nursing Home came after visiting a good friend in a rehabilitation center, seeing the stark conditions, feeling everyone deserves better.
 Questa comes from the tug of homesickness I have for the Southwest. When I am there I feel part of the land, my vision is clearer.
Image by: Sara Sandberg

Contact Editor: Pamela Tyree Griffin

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