Posted by: jeannineatkins | March 18, 2013

Bread and a Knife: For Don Laird

Last night I wondered how long the orange-yellow tulips

would last, petals stretched like arms bound to ache,

stamens sturdy but exposed. The call came

just  before dawn, voices soft in the dark.

It’s over, Peter said, and we remembered another morning

with light on his father’s face as he held our baby

in perfect contentment. How he adored her.

Peter talked to his brother and drove to what is now

his mother’s house. We were glad his sister spent

the night there. I mused until my eyes stung, then

recalled the blackened bananas on the counter,

the bread pan I’d set out yesterday, wanting to make

something whole and sweet. I’ll bring bread to Alice

who might eat or stare or leave it like the baseball

a friend brought for her husband to hold in his hands.

The ball is solitary now on a wheeled table, like the belt

I left coiled after washing Don’s last worn shirt and blue jeans.

I don’t yet know who will want the knife looped

through that belt, but someone will open

the blades and find uses as good

as those made by a man who left a garage

filled with rakes, saws, saved nails and wire,

a cloud and cluster of all that he fixed

and cherished and will endure.


Thank you for all the kind and thoughtful comments here, on facebook, and in emails on my post from three days ago. I’m lucky in my family and lucky in my compassionate friends, too.



  1. What a beautiful poem. Hugs, Jeannine.

  2. A good reminder to cherish my mom. Sending metta your way…

    • Deb, I knew you’d send me only good, but I had to look up metta. How I love google. Thank you for love without clinging, and a new word.

  3. Oh, Jeannine. I am sorry. What a lucky man to be loved so well, so carefully, at the end of his life. Baseball, banana bread, tulips. I am sorry. May we all love and be loved so deeply. xo, a.

  4. Jeannine, I’m so sorry. Your poem is lovely, and I hope the writing of it gave you some ease, at least for the moment. This part of life is just so hard. Best to you and Peter.

    • You’re right, Becky. This part is hard, even with moments of ease between. We appreciate your good wishes.

  5. So very beautiful, Jeannine. A loving, homey tribute. Love

    • Thanks for your always-there love, Sarah.

  6. Sweet Jeannine, my love and deepest sympathies to you and to Peter and to your whole family. Your beautiful tribute to your dear father-in-law touched me deeply. You are all in my heart through this time of grieving. xoxo

    • So glad to reside for a while in your good heart, Lorraine.

  7. A beautiful poem for a beautiful soul. My best wishes to you….

    • Thank you, Tara. I felt from your blog that you’re on a different kind of courageous journey this week, and my thoughts are with you, too.

  8. Just prayers, Jeannine. That’s all I know to offer, but I hope they help, I believe they do. Love, Sally

    • Everything from you helps, Sally. Thank you.

  9. Arms giving you hugs, Jeannine. Much love and sympathy to all of you. Loved the poem..

  10. I’m so sorry for your loss, Jeannine. *hugs*

  11. What a wonderful poem. Although the tulips won’t last, your memories will. So sorry for your loss. Tulips upon you.

    • Lots of memories! And Peter’s mom seems to be uncovering more through the day. He came home with his high school diploma… thank you.

  12. Beautiful tribute for a dear man.

  13. This is beautiful – and I’m sending lots of love your family’s way, Jeannine.

  14. Oh. I am in awe of how you can still find the words through a veil of hurt, Jeannine. Thank you so much for sharing the love and beauty with the rest of us. Sending love and hugs across the miles….

    • Thanks, Tracy. I’m glad to hear that some of what we feel came through, as your warmth travels to me.

  15. I’m in awe, too. Such a loving tribute to a life well-lived. Thinking of you with love in all the moments of light and dark, and holding you and Peter in my heart.

    • Thank you, Amy. It was a life well lived and he had the comfort of knowing that even if he would have liked a little more time. Maybe we always want that.

  16. I am so sorry Jeannine. Don’t I wish we all got stay at this party together forever! xoxo

  17. Hugs. Just…hugs. My heart goes out to all of you. xoxoxox

  18. Sending hugs back to you, Debbi.

  19. I’m holding all of you in my heart today, Jeannine.

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