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An immigrant's agony
(In Memory of Glenna Leighton)

Here on the other side of the world
On this Southern Island continent,
Where a bold winter sun climbs over the green mountain
And spills its hot pinks into the Pacific Ocean,
I think of you, Grandmother -
Your love of nature -
The frosty white clouds edging the horizon
Like the lace on the nightie Steve made for you, for your birthday.
We were so glad you loved its smouldering pink -
I know how much you loved that colour.
I wish you could see the dazzling view of cliffs and sea
From my window now -
You'd say it was a home fitting to a Poet.

I hold myself back - the tears rising from the great waterfall inside -
Another landscape that moves and shifts in weather patterns
And shades of light....
The tone darkens as smoky sky invades the blue.
The ache inside, the grief that grips my joy -
How sad that I could not be in N.B. by your side
In those last hushed moments -
To hold your hand.

This is the time when the pain
Of being an emigrant is imminent.
I join the long line of those whose loved ones
Slip away and cannot be part of their passing.
I think of my Irish ancestors
When they left their homes to immigrate to N.B.
And how they must have looked into the tearful eyes
Of their loved ones - knowing
They would never see them again.
A place - though wonderfully filled with beauty for the eye -
Is only a home where and when the heart had joined
In spirit with flesh and blood memories.

I know in your last hours
Your felt afraid to cross that portal
From time to eternity
I prayed from a distance
That the "Peace that passes all understanding"
Would sweep over you like a gentle wave -
Like the waves you felt
When you were young - dancing on the shore -
Smelling the fresh salt from the sea
As your swirling skirt flirted with the froth...

As I contemplate your life
I think of the wondrous interlude we had
On Grand Manan Island,
As we walked along the coastal trail
To a little haven on the hill.
There in the evening hours
As the rain tapped on the roof,
I watched your face lit by candle glow
Saw the joy in your vibrant eyes
And listened with amazement
To the many stories and secrets of your heart....

Grandmother, I miss you so.
Too hard...knowing I can never see you again....
Too late...I asked you to wait for me to come home -
You tried. You hung on
Until the choice was not yours anymore.

Now, I weep for you and all the good things
Of New Brunswick...
I render up my offering in this tribute...
Needing to let go
But holding on to the memories.

SOURCE: "The New Brunswick Reader" (July 30, 2005) by Cindy Spear Ross, Australia.

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