Letters from the Pandemic 16: Dear Percy

Letters from the Pandemic 16: Dear Percy
by Jane Frankish

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Dear Percy,

Miniature portrait of Percy Shelley. Courtesy Don Shelton

In a letter to Thomas Love Peacock, dated November 9, 1818, you write, “You know I always seek in what I see the manifestation of something beyond the present and tangible object….”[1] With this in mind, I would like to share with you this Haibun:

What was left of the blue spruce looked like a ball of tumbleweed, its colour was stunning and she could not bin the remnant. The three of them stood the tumbleweed tree in the bay window admiring the blue in the pine green. What was left of her family decorated what was left of the tree with lights, silver tinsel, and ornamental birds and moons. She knew it was a stump but she adorned it as though it was whole. 

When she saw the tree in the morning light her mind imagined the triangle top, like a phantom limb, and the tree was complete. Staring at the non-existent top and knowing it wasn’t there, she saw loss. Like filling in an outline in a colouring book she packed the space with all that was missing in her life including the soft skin of her daughter who did not come home. She would not kiss her pretty face this year, maybe next year.

The Little Christmas Spruce, December 2020. Photo by Jane Frankish

The triangle was filled with all those who were no longer living, her father who had died without saying goodbye and others whom she had shared prayers with before they departed. Swirling in and out of the treetop was a dance of souls, shifting and moving in the empty space. She saw the multitudes who had died in the pandemic and other souls less visible, the starving, the war victims, and the very young.

She felt the sadness of what was lost but at the same time was comforted by the presence of the little blue spruce and by the realization that loss is only felt in relation to what is seen as whole.

Little Christmas spruce;
Blue needles silently fall –
I brush them away.

Like you, Percy Shelley, I have visions beyond the simple phenomena before me, and the little Christmas spruce gives me pause.

Yours sincerely,
Jane Frankish

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Jane Frankish

Jane Frankish is a Master’s student in the Graduate Liberal Studies program at Simon Fraser University. She is a librarian who enjoys creative writing and poetry. Follow her blogs here.

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The Ormsby Review is a journal service for in-depth coverage of B.C. books and authors. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Robin Fisher, Cole Harris, Wade Davis, Hugh Johnston, Patricia Roy, David Stouck, and Graeme Wynn. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Provincial Government Patron since September 2018: Creative BC

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Endnotes:

[1] H.F.B. Brett-Smith (editor), Peacock’s Memoir of Shelley, with Shelley’s Letters to Peacock (London: Henry Frowde, 1909), p. 141.

 

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