Today is All Souls’ Day, when we remember those who have died. We pray for them and speak to them. We tell them how we are. We ask them to wait for us. We recommend Frances Bellerby’s poem All Souls’ Day from her Selected Poems. Bellerby is a Christian poet whose poems often respond to the liturgical calendar. She writes, “what the small day cannot hold / must spill into eternity.” Much more in our book.
All Souls’ Day
by Frances Bellerby
Let’s go our old way
by the stream, and kick the leaves
as we always did, to make
the rhythm of breaking waves.
This day draws no breath –
shows no colour anywhere
except for the leaves – in their death
brilliant as never before.
Yellow of Brimstone Butterfly,
brown of Oak Eggar Moth –
you’d say. And I’d be wondering why
a summer never seems lost
if two have been together
witnessing the variousness of light,
and the same two in lustreless November
enter the year’s night…
The slow-worm stream – how still!
Above that spider’s unguarded door,
look – dull pearls…Time’s full,
brimming, can hold no more.
Next moment (we well know,
my darling, you and I)
what the small day cannot hold
must spill into eternity.
So perhaps we should move cat-soft
meanwhile, and leave everything unsaid,
until no shadow of risk can be left
of disturbing the scatheless dead
Ah, but you were always leaf-light.
And you so seldom talk
as we go. But there at my side
through the bright leaves you walk
And yet – touch my hand
that I may be quite without fear,
for it seems as if a mist descends,
and the leaves where you walk do not stir.