Last Sunday I received an email from someone I have never met. The email had a Word attachment. The file name just read: Ode. I opened it.
It was a poem.
Ode to a little girl lost at sea
The wintry wind blusters
Through pine boughs
Whistling through ashen eucalypt
Across rosy-hued skies
It gives no solace
This pomegranate sunset
For my mind is awash
With your papa’s words for you
Words enmeshed in love
Born of terrible grief
His rhymes of anguish
They anchor me
Last night I dreamt
Of a colossal wave
A lucent barrier
In terror I ran as you did
But it overtook me too
The core of the force
It was a blur
As visions go
I couldn’t tell
But I heard the cries
Was it that tsunami?
Was it a wall of Living Sorrow?
I couldn’t tell
I woke up and wept
Grabben Gullen, July 2012
The author’s name is Samantha Sirimanne, but I have never met her in person. Sam (I think she prefers it if I refer to her that way) was one of the many contributors to the first issue of Hypallage, a little dream or project I have helped create for the Multicultural Writers Association of Australia. We had corresponded by email and shared a few of our poems. I passed on the link to the online version of Lalomanu, which can be downloaded as a PDF from ISUU.
You can read another two poems by Sam (‘Migration’ and ‘Differing Opinions’) here.
Sam began her email with an (unnecessary) apology; then she wrote:
I had randomly read the poems before but wanted to be able to read all in one go before writing to you.
Your poems are so hauntingly poignant. They moved me very much - despite the heartbreaking subject, there's a quietude & elegance in your writing which is really beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing it with others. Though you don't know me - through your writing, I feel your family's pain.
Attached is a bit of free verse for Clea … jotted down after reading Lalomanu. As a poem, I reckon it's nothing much in artistry but more just my thoughts...
In a later email, Sam acknowledged:
Verse very rarely moves me to tears – I can’t recall the last time before I read your poetry. So, it’s a testament to the huge power of your writing that made me feel your burden.
I wish I could thank Sam appropriately; not because of the praise she pours on my book, but because of the tribute she pays to Clea in a very graceful manner. Any expression of gratitude for such a wonderful response will always be insufficient. Because it was unexpected, it meant so much more. Sam has made a beautiful, sensitive and meaningful tribute to Clea and to the cry of pain I wrote after losing her in such traumatic circumstances. Sam is a perfect stranger, but she is a brave human being, brimming with the kind of human energy other people are either unwilling or incapable of finding within themselves.
Lalomanu travelled a long way. It was posted (at some considerable expense, although that was the least of my concerns at the time) to many people in many different places all over the world.
In some cases, Lalomanu did not seem to even deserve an acknowledgement; silence was the preferred response from some people I used to think of as close and caring. Silence can be deafening, though.
Moltes gràcies, Sam.