For William and Michela and Olian

The second poem, by Kalia Mussetter, was written for his memorial service

(after “For Damien and Twyla”)

I hate what this world has done to you,
Wanderers with no home.
Deserted in your own community
by those who should love and guide and support you

Children of our times
A woman of 24 tender years
A man of 36 years
Ground into less in the space of distress

Children in the dust
Then adults in this bitter world
God save you. And God save us

Tears flow like rain on the redwoods
The sadness of those who don’t even know you
Does not know the depths of despair
which will haunt those of us who do

My Christmas joy now bitter and bleak,
when the middle of the month will bring you to mind
all the days of my life

To think of a kind young woman from my past,
who lost her children to despair
Then died at the crazed hands of a drug addled man

Or a man who only wanted to be good – And was
But lonely and in search of community
He let the wrong person in

My sadness is like the cold of a winter night
Wandering with unshorn feet
God save you. And God save us

The little heart of a child should not know such darkness
Nor should the person with no pillow or door come to this
Perhaps you have transformed to what you were to be

But the tired heart of your genuine community
carries the weight of your lost lives

We are not responsible for you,
we who are sent to respond to you
Or are we?
Your parents could not have foreseen this
Or could they?
Your God could not save you
Or did he?

Like the summer monsoon in the barren desert.
Or the cold winter night living outside.
Our tears, both silent and weak, are for you

Can tears and heavy thoughts be salvation?
We hate what this world has done to you,
Our friends from the street
Who shared your hopes and dreams

You were the people of the tender and the bitter years
The people in our hearts.

Photo by Pocho Sanchez Strawbridge, 2019

As We Go  For William Woodard

By Kalia Mussetter   1-14-2023

Into the arms of light

my soul will glide

like the silver fish shedding

the smaller creek for the larger river;

my fins will flash in that moment,

current flowing me

from little waters into big—

soft, soft my body will be,

little shell left on the shore—

all is well,

my soul remembers

And then a mere babe I will be

resting gentle in the blanket

of this new place—

wet at first in the churn away

from my dear body—

soft, soft

I will feel,

tender colors all around,

green and gold laughing 

their delight,

love with my name

in its mouth

Into the deep of light

I’ll fully wake,

ancestors open faces smiling

into me anew,

old earth slumber shaking

from my eyes—

soft, soft

these moments will be,

warm hands helping,

slowing down a bit

the full and spacious glory

Finally in all recognition

stretching the limbs

of my unbound freedom,

in brightening song

my new adventure will begin—

the tribe of my soul a murmuration

dancing all a new dance—

slow at first then finding ease

I’ll enter fully in

soft, soft

my Creator’s welcome will be

fulfilling all joy

Gerry Avatar

One response to “For William and Michela and Olian”

  1. Adrienne Lauby Avatar

    William was a bright light, intelligent, full of humor and life. The world is a poorer place without him.

    I did not know Michela but the grief of those who did launched a 2 1/2 year homeless camp that made life better for many homeless individuals.

    Gone too soon.

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