When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

—Maya Angelou

3 Comments on “

  1. Omigosh, Melissa, I’m blown away — yes, of course, by the perfection of Maya Angelou’s words but first, and most unexpectedly, by the discovery of your ADDITIONAL talent with pen and paper, not just as a wordsmith! With this drawing you have captured such essence of RBG, not just the Notorious but also the Compassionate, the Concerned, the Determined… What a hole in all our hearts — to say nothing of the pit in our stomachs. Thank you so much. XOX, A



  2. Melissa, I’ve long admired your powers with words (both reading them and writing them); I had no idea till today of your ADDITIONAL talent with pen and paper, as demonstrated here. With this drawing I feel you captured the wonderful essence of RBG, not just the Notorious but also the Compassionate, the Concerned, the Determined…

    And in addition to this simple visual portrait, you found the perfect words for our shared heartbreak right now. Maya Angelou’s poem is so fresh it seems it could have been written especially for this moment, the loss of Justice Ginsburg. But just as easily for Rep. John Lewis a few weeks ago. Or the great poet herself.
    The holes in our hearts are matched only by the pits in our stomachs. When will this awful horror film end?


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