Found Poem: Gratitude Posts from a Dying Friend

Nancy Flynn Apostrophe Blog Archive, Neighborhood, Poetry, Writing

The Apostrophe Blog

Musings on Writing and Life.

Below is a found poem that was part of a Zoom memorial service celebration for a neighbor during the isolating years of the pandemic. I created it from the amazing trove of gratitude posts my neighbor made over the years before she was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.

What is a found poem? “Found poetry,” according to Wikipedia, “is a poetry genre created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources [in this case, Cynthia’s gratitude posts on Facebook] and re-framing them by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning—a literary equivalent of a collage. The resulting poem can be defined as either treated: changed in a profound and systematic manner; or untreated: virtually unchanged from the order, syntax and meaning of the poem.”

The last several stanzas of “Blessings Galore” were taken from Cynthia’s June 8, 2020 post on CaringBridge as transcribed by Mary Jane Boucher, her daughter-in-law. Cynthia died on July 8, 2020.

Blessings Galore

a found poem gleaned from Cynthia’s gratitude posts on Facebook in 2019 & 2020

What a blessing to be comfortable in my body
this sweet view as I sit, reading—
the beauty of grass silhouetted on a wall,

pink roses poking through
a black wrought iron fence,
yellow forsythia against the blue sky.

Birds never fail to lift my spirits.
They fly, swoop, hop, chirp and sing,
call to greet the day then nest at night.

When walking, I look down
to behold: beauty. A stuck leaf, a clematis
blooming clear up to the sky.

Last night of the safari, elephants
trumpeting and lions roaring then singers
after dinner—harmony and clear voices.

Fields of lavender, vineyards, olive groves
in southern France. A cloudy day’s reflections.
Sun on the beach, bird tracks in the sand.

Windows that open, fresh air day and night.
Our bedroom window facing south
so the moon can shine in.

My prayer wheel earrings, how they twirl
when I sleep, continue to send prayers
of goodness, day and night.

I wake in the night, Don is there.
Lovely to have a bedmate,
company as it were.

The sky in early morning, my favorite time of day.
Sunshine and a chorus of crows while I wait for a bus.
Overheard conversations.

Friendly waves, some between strangers,
others acknowledging friends, they say, I see you.
Lovely things: waves.

Hats, being barefoot in the yard,
rain, football, the sound of crickets
at night, belly laughs with a friend.

Smitten apples, and Envys.
A cup of tea at the Chinese Garden.
Toast and jam—my comfort, such a treat.

Decorative white lights sparkling in the dark,
a thrill. The joy of ribbons, a ribbon of migrating
birds on our way to Corvallis. Bees. Thrive, dear bees!

I remember angels, call them up when anxious,
they fly along doing their angel thing,
as they do for the grasses, whispering “grow.”

Our backyard, a sanctuary. I come home,
dig in the dirt, my hands in soil that heals.
Out into the sunshine and fresh air—budding

flowers, smiling faces, songbirds and crows.
I have seen much beauty in my lifetime.
I have a room with a view.

I turned 75 today, simply a lovely number.
My joints keep working; I can still touch my toes.
My blood, essentially life. Spirit is persistent.

A nudge from the universe. Tomorrow, I say
tomorrow. The clouds by evening are
art. Footprints coming and going.

The soothing light of a candle.
The warmth of a lightweight wrap, this shawl.
Quiet, it is silence that fills me.

Happy chatter around the dining room table.
The lovely background noise of “ordinary life”—
the pleasure of time with family.

The kids flocked the yard: flamingos everywhere!
In trees, bushes, on window sills, chuckling among themselves.
I can hear them—makes me laugh.

The best afternoon ever: kids and both grandkids
together, chatting, playing, eating, happy noise
for hours. I have the best family possible.

Exchanges over nothingness in the kitchen
with Don. We’ve discovered sweet nothings,
all the sweeter because it came so late.

I can curse this disease for cutting my life
short. Cursing: cathartic. Rocked
in the arms of spirit, back and forth,

the ebb and flow of this journey,
I have not finished learning what I am
to do. I have everything I need and more.

This heart-shaped gauze under an additional bandage,
a hidden and unannounced love,
kindness showering down.

This rose-quartz heart Simone is loaning me—
now I’m carrying love
in my pocket.

Flowers have memories, they are so varied.
Peonies are beautiful even as they fade and die.
That too is a blessing.

Without fail, the sun rises and falls,
the earth continues to orbit the sun—
I am astonished: how miraculous!

And still I awaken. From all directions,
listening ears and a steady stream of love.
Oh joy, I rest in joy.

No hurries, no worries, no pain.
Just kindness, surrounded by phenomenal love.
Phenomenal: love.

How does divine providence work?
Can I bless any more?
Can I thank you any more?

Let the love go round and round and round,
pedaling round again. And I come back
to the beginning again.

Nancy Flynn
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