Briana: In Memoriam
The rhythms of death and life were on my mind, too, this weekend—though not for the symbolic reasons that Brad referenced in his prior post. Yesterday my dear friend Briana Blackwelder was killed in a car accident, and so this Easter Sunday, for the many people who loved and admired her, has been a day of shock and mourning. Briana was a 28-year-old midwife, passionately devoted to her craft and to the natural rhythms of Life and Earth, which makes her passing even more poignant and, for me, harder to understand.
Briana, I know you loved poetry and had started writing it in secret. This is for you:
Believer in Ferns
believer in shade
believer in silence and elegance
believer in ferns
believer in patience
believer in the rain
This is what you did:
You palpated pregnant bellies.
Sliding your fingers gently, capably,
you circled the bloom of the belly
seeking spine, skull, foot,
upside down, rightside up, sideways, left, right.
Here she is, you would say, smiling. Here he is.
And when it was time,
you held hands, stroked hair, pressed knees, spoke softly.
(Birthing women are plants in the moonlight,
shadowy and mysterious and primal;
they furl and unfurl, they open profoundly,
and their eyes are pools of white light.)
You knew how to be patient with the blossoming.
And when it was time,
you extended your hands
and –calm—ushered in
You caught gasping babies, their starry eyes wide,
and placed them into their mothers’ and fathers’ arms.
You held shining cords pulsating with first blood.
You pointed out the veiny trees painted on placentas.
Your hands were marked with red blood, pale milk, cloudy vernix.
Babies met the world by meeting you first,
and I have seen photographs of how you cradled them in those moments:
You are gentle and triumphant; you are fierce and you are still;
you are strength and you are softness.
You moved from place to place smelling of newness,
dispensing healing –peppermint, sage, a tincture for any ill.
You glowed, a woman-witness:
A greeter, a goddess, an agent of creation.
You trailed your own clouds of glory.
And now… and now.
If a Mother in Heaven has a recipe for joy,
I know you will learn to make it.
If a Mother in Heaven knows a tincture for grief,
send it to us soon.
You have been gone one day (not three), but
today is Easter, Bri, and I wish
you would rise up; come back.