Friday, August 13, 2021

Splintered Vision


It's a week of hard reality for me. My oldest brother, 92, has been admitted to hospice. 

I feel such sadness while facing the end of a relationship I've known all my years. I feel distracted and forget common steps in my routine. I'm #9 in a family of 10, and my younger brother and I have talked about the likelihood of watching our siblings go, one by one. There are six of us now, and as Emil approaches the end of his days, and I lament that soon we will be five. It doesn't get easier.

We call him "Brother" in our home. After two girls, when Emil came along it must have seemed a natural nickname. I think he was about to get married before someone said to me, "You know... his named isn't actually Brother. It's Emil." Seriously... I remember being shocked! "What??? We all call him Brother!" I was too young to question the name "Brother." Seems funny now... and sweet. 

Emil had taken to calling me recently. We talked about poetry, among other things, and he would give me advice about my writing. One time I read him a poem that I liked... it fell flat... it was hard for him to "get it" over the phone. He listened and then asked, "Is that it?"  Haha. Yeah... that was it. "Well, let me read you a poem I like." So I listened, and he read me one of my own poems. (See it here.) What a sweetie.

When I saw this close-up of a dragonfly's wing with such beauty, transparency, and complex shapes, it spoke to me of sadness, beauty, mystery and hope, and it led to this ekphrastic poem:


splinters my vision
I look
but can't see, and
what I do see
is out of focus

the veil...
luminous panes
of organic shapes
pangs of beauty
in utter confusion

Where are you?
I can't find you
in this maze
despite this soft light
these colors seeping through

Still... I sense 

How I will miss you...

I can only go on

grateful for shared time
reliving laughter
seeking the light beyond.

© Karen Eastlund

Thanks for visiting today. Come along with the rest of the Poetry Friday gang to the gathering at Christie's Wondering and Wondering. You'll find some wonderful thoughts on poetry there.


  1. Karen, what a beautiful poem celebrating and anticipating the grief of losing Emil. It's comforting, I'm sure, to have had so many conversations with him lately. I too have experienced the death of siblings. I'm the sixth of seven, and I've lost our two elder siblings. Peace to you and your family as you go through this.

  2. Dear Karen, thinking of you as you move through this grief... I love the memories you shared here about Brother/Emil...he read you one of your own poems! LOVELY. And the dragonfly wing and poem is perfect. xo

  3. Being a younger one, then having the goodbyes felt one by one I'm sure is heartbreaking, Karen. I love the memories of your Brother/Emil that you shared, know there must be so many more. The line "I can only go on
    remembering" speaks to me loudly, the way we live on after. Using the maze of the dragonwing picture as you try hard to 'see' feels very true, beautifully done.

  4. I'm so sorry--and so delighted to hear about Brother Emil, to get to know a little of him. It must take work to maintain relationships with 8 others! What a poignant processing of your grief you made with the help of a dragonfly wing.

  5. Just last night Carol and I were talking about Emil being called Brother. We assumed (I think we got it right) that it was because hewas the first boy with two older sisters.
    I've only recently noticed that he and my mom look so similar. I am sorry for the grief, I know it isn't easy. <3

  6. Thanks for sharing your story about your brother, about how he came to be called "Brother." Your poem seem so true about how multifaceted grief but gratitude for the shared time.

  7. How hard it must be to be losing siblings, but how special that you have these memories of a shared love of poetry and the beauty of the dragonflies wing to help you through it.

  8. Karen, what a beautiful poem. I love how you thought his name was 'Brother" I can't fathom losing my sibling. Thinking of you and your family at this time.

  9. Oh, Karen...I'm the youngest of four girls and worry about this in my future. Your post panged straight into my heart. The words, the image, and then the poem. Thanks for sharing yourself with us. I'm sending you and Brother :>) hugs and peace. xo, Laura

  10. Stunning, Karen - your poem, this photo - which I must confess was the reason I quickly clicked from the Inlinkz page I'm finally getting to... and your beautiful, truthful words about this beloved man and your special bond, and the hard times thinking about loss. Thank you for sharing (I will pass along to my hubby who is sometimes involved with end-of-life work), and offering prayers for you and yours.

  11. What an amazing photo! Your poem is a poignant articulation of the complexity of grieving the loss of a loved one. Wish you and those you love comfort as you walk this difficult road.

  12. Beautiful, beautiful. Karen, thank you for the poem and Emil. I know what it is like mourning the loss of my sister. Life on earth is over but the joy of seeing our loved ones is exciting and God given. Sending hugs and love.