Perfect days

Pat Schneider’s home office, Amherst, Massachusetts, 2017

She lived as a fire and went as a coal on the hearth, yearning for more tinder until there was not one single thing left but the ash of her body and the curling smoke of her will, rising up finally and at last in peace after such a long and beautiful conflagration. It is her first birthday after death. She is leaning on the everlasting arms. Or more likely inspiring the everlasting arms to write. Happy birthday, dear fiery Mom. “What is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.” [James Russell Lowell]
We love you.

—Bethany Schneider on Facebook about her mother, Pat Schneider, June 1, 2021

(for Pat)

Though you lived near it, the Pacific was not your ocean
for most of your life, you Midwestern transplant to the Atlantic,

who deeply admired rivers and streams, arteries flowing seaward.
How many visitors did you take to your favorite cemetery

hard by the Connecticut River, to walk among the revered
dead, imagine their lives based only on names and dates?

Catharine, wife of Robert, 1779
Thankful, wife of Nathaniel, 1783

Now your stone in another cemetery bears your name atop
your beloved’s, he who followed you into mystery

four months after your departure — no “wife of,”
no “husband of,” though you two were that and more.

And on the 87th anniversary of your birth, almost
a year after your death, I walk the western edge

of the continent, the Pacific peaceful for the moment,
temporary occupant of Casa Pacis — house of peace —

as I turn the tiller into the wind. You would                     
cheer this new direction, remind me that

a poet needs time and space to stoke the fires,
let the white heat of the muse burn us into ash.

As I stroll the damp shore — white lace surf scalloping
black sand — your voice surges, retreats with the foam:

“Enjoy these perfect days, regardless of the weather,
so many precious hours with your beloved.”

Thankful, I look to him nearby, smile my silent promise
to the horizon in this sea of serenity, forever and ever,

amen.

At The Sea Ranch, Sonoma coast, California, June 1, 2021,
on what would have been Pat Schneider’s 87th birthday

Dick Schmidt photographing at Walk-on Beach, The Sea Ranch (Photo by Jan Haag)

About janishaag

Writer, writing teacher, editor
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4 Responses to Perfect days

  1. Bethany Schneider says:

    Thank you. This is connective, beautiful, deeply carved. And what a stunning photograph.

  2. Connie Raub says:

    Well said, Jan! A beautiful tribute to two of your favorite people. Revel in your time together. Savor the moments and the overtones. Remember those who have gone before and shared their life experience. Be at peace for now and know you are loved.

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