Navigation Menu+

“The Promise” by Marie Howe

Posted on Mar 19, 2012 by



The book, What the Living Do, was written by Marie Howe in the wake of her brother’s death from AIDS. It’s a book that, perhaps better than any other book I know, walks that delicate balance between making memorial—remembering who and what has been lost—and choosing life in the wake of such loss—figuring out, day by day, what it is that the living do (after).

The following is excerpted from her poem, “The Promise.”

In the dream I had when he came back not sick
but whole, and wearing his winter coat,


he looked at me as though he couldn’t speak. . .


And I told him: I’m reading all this Buddhist stuff,


and listen, we don’t die when we die. Death is an event,
a threshold we pass through. We go on and on


and into light forever.
And he looked down, and then back up at me. It was the look we’d


across the kitchen table when Dad was drunk again and dangerous,
the level look that wants to tell you something,


in a crowded room, something important, and can’t.


See also:

A piece on her book, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, at my Healing Library.  This page also contains a number of other links on Marie Howe