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In Memory of Jane Spear
(Who came to N.B. Canada in 1819
with her parents and three brothers)

Standing at your grave
in the late afternoon light,
I think about you
buried here in a foreign land,
far from the lush green
glens of Ireland—
and wonder what it was like
leaving home at fifteen
to journey across
the harsh Atlantic Sea;
to settle in a field
of Forget-Me-Nots
and much uncertainty.

I imagine your departure
on a dark moonless night;
your long midnight hair
falling, as you leaned over
the port-side of the ship—
looking into a whirpool
of wishes and fears;
lost in the longings
of the familiar
and straining to hear—
the flutter of harpstrings,
the last pennywhistle shrill
and soft flute note—
you loved so well.

Was your heart laden
with cherry-ripened grief
as you sailed out
into the coin-silver cold?
Did you leave someone
standing in the shadows—
some secret love
tucked away in your mementos?
For you did not marry
on this fair land
where buttercups and wild daisies
flourish— beneath brief
coastal summer skies—
but died at age 43, alone
on Saint Valentine’s Day.

Now, as the sun slips
between bowed branches—
casting feathery patterns
across this tilted tombstone
bearing your name—
dear Aunt Jane,
you are not lost or forgotten
because I carry a fragment
of who you are, inside of me,
and leave this tribute—
an emerald bouquet of words
which speak of your courage
and silent, unseen loss.

SOURCE: AWAKENED by Cindy Spear Polley (now Cindy Spear Ross) (1994) - used with permission from the author.

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