Saturday, January 27, 2018

a wonder

Outside Glasgow, Kentucky, on the old family farm, a very special person lives with whom we visited Thanksgiving.  This poem is a tribute to her.  At 98, she is still persevering and is still a wonder.

Anna Bridges Holman 

Anna lives a meditation I like:
“putting others before themselves
they find themselves in the foremost place,”

Anna, so sweet, so solicitous of others’ needs, desires, gifts,
so pouring the gift of her love on all of us
that she herself glows with her life and ours,

so sharp she cuts to the heart of the best of us
and to the truth that can hide away,
her common sense isn’t common,
and, further, she’s a computer pioneer within her generation,

I think there’s something special about Kentucky and women,
my wife and her mother have amazed me
with their strength, their beauty,
their ability to hold true to self and other
despite how outrageous people can be around them:
the rock that centers a family,
the star that leads a family,
the glue that holds a family together,

from the first time that I met Anna
through every time I have seen her since
I come into her presence and I just feel better
as if she gives me whatever I need at that moment to be more whole,

I know part of it is grounding in a most classic sense,
the being close to the earth,
knowing how to farm,
how to release sustenance with seed, leaf, animal, and hard work,
even now our letters and e mails from Anna
speak of temperature, precipitation, storms,
the challenges people and plant are given
by the chance rolls of fate that weather tells us about,

Anna is of the generations after generations
who have lived on the land, worked the land,
and who have learned to endure and to joy,
and to know deep in muscle & bone & soul what earth and sky demand,
if we are to thrive and not vanish,
I have savored the hickory nuts she laboriously processed
on long fall evenings
whose nut meats amazed a cake,
the custard she made every year at Christmas
whose rich, delicious fullness fought late December’s cold emptiness,
the butter beans, the cucumbers, the tomatoes she readily shared,
her passion for family history,
even when it’s her husband’s and thus the history of her choice
and not of her personal past,
that history she also preserves,
plus taking care of whomever in the community, 
whenever each needs it and she can help,

I celebrate her devotion to her husband, to her children, 
to her grandchildren, to her great grandchildren,—
all of whom must know
that with Anna Bridges Holman
it is as if each has won the lottery, the Derby,

in Our Town, Thornton Wilder writes of the best of us
and that we should appreciate each moment we have,
for the others we love are of grace and wonder,

how good it feels to sing a note just right,
for some of us we need to stand next to a person
for whom pitch is as natural as breathing,

I love to be next to Anna Holman,
for with her life she sings true to the melody
that comes from earth and family, and love,
she harmonizes with what drives growth,
with what weather and circumstance allow
for a farm, for a child, for a grandchild,
for a great-grandchild,
for any with whom she finds a connection,

when someone’s song comes to an end,
whether after a long or a too short life,
Anna endures and still seeks to sing with her life
and to joy in whatever songs 
family and friend share with her,

everyone who lets himself, who lets herself,
come close to the love that is Anna,
becomes better for her firm soft touch upon our soul,
upon how we might sing the song God has given us,

the best in us cannot but become even better
when we let ourselves have time
 and then connection with Anna,
from whom wells forth love 
as if from a spring beyond our understanding.

Anna is of grace and wonder,
may we appreciate every moment we have with her.

by Henry Walker

updated 12/17

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