Today I’m keeping it short and sweet because my literary heart is a little bit sad. Yesterday, one of my favorite writers passed away. Poet Maya Angelou was 86 and in her life had overcome many obstacles. Through it all her writing inspired countless others to do the same. I can’t help but want to be a writer like that, a writer whose words lift up others. When someone like Maya Angelou passes, there is, of course, grief. However, overwhelmingly, there is hope and there is gratefulness. People are grateful to have heard her poetry, to have shared her experience, to have encountered her wisdom rhythmically condensed into stanzas. I’m one of those people, and I collectively feel loss with her other fans. At the same time, I feel a sense that I’ve been blessed in some way to have been inspired by her words.
If I could plant a garden, a garden strewn with literary masterpieces, I’d plant her work next to Hemingway and Hawthorne, two rows over from Poe and across from Twain. I’d water the seeds of her literary glory every day with my tears and the sweat from a writer’s brow, and I’d let the simple sunshine of my daughter’s smile provide enough light for it to grow tall and vibrant and wonderful. And when anyone walked through my garden, they would hear the sweet whispers of the wind drifting through her words, and they would feel blessed, too, for getting a new perspective and for sharing someone else’s reality, if only for a moment. I’d like to plant a garden like that, but I can’t, so I’ll just settle for planting some seeds in the form of a short poem meant to pay homage to all the insights she offered and all the lives she touched.
In the Garden…
In the garden where words play,
Children gasp in delight
As giraffes gracefully nibble whole stanzas
from only the tallest trees.
The world sees an image
but the poet senses it.
She shares it. She delights in it.
It grows into something unimaginably beautiful,
blooming fields filled with exotic thoughts,
but spawned by only one flower.
A perfect flower. A simple word. Her word.
And now it’s yours if you want it.
It waits with the butterflies and blue jays, with the wrens and the dandelions.
Ready to inspire.
In the garden.