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    Clouds with a Silver Lining

    Poem: The Silver Lining of Stuart Little

    Daniel Picker

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    • Ann South

      Thank you for this lovely, simple poem - telling a story of how one family deals with a loss of a loved one. I loved that recollection of the time of having milk shakes, cold in those aluminum containers, and filling up those tall glasses, with extra still to come! I hadn't thought of that in many years!

    In Memory of Alissa Picker

    This is my third try since August,
    that end of summer when my only
    sister-in-law left this planet, my younger
    brother’s wife. Leaving daughter, son, and mother

    too, and her two brothers. She wouldn’t wish
    us moping about, but we do, half stunned
    to silence. God how I’ve tried to get
    the words right, correct. As we four left

    Stuart Little 2 while I was visiting out west,
    when the kids were still kids, almost eight
    years ago, I commented, “That strain in Michael
    J. Fox’s voice seems perfect for Stuart Little,

    that little white mouse.” “That’s his
    silver lining,” she said, knowing the story well.
    We knew of his illness and she knew of
    the idea of “the silver lining” better than I did.

    After, we went to the Peninsula Creamery
    for milkshakes, that old fashioned place
    in her home town, where we used to enjoy
    lunch when we both worked downtown there.

    Those tall, silver, metal fountain
    milkshake cups icy cold, refreshing,
    and clear sparkling glasses to pour
    our shakes into, smiles all around.

    So, what is our silver lining with her gone?
    With anyone loved gone? A dog, a cat,
    another dog, another, and three other cats? A
    mother, a stepfather, grandparents, uncles, friends, … ?

    Later, I rented the first movie, Stuart Little
    from the local library back east, thought
    Stuart Little 2 better, wished those kids        
    and we too could stay that young, as we

    were, forever. Years later all of us again
    saw Despicable Me 2 together; where
    were we then? At the Shore? A friend’s
    sister asked my youngest nephew, “Did you

    like the movie?” “It was ok,” he said.
    I’ve not been west again, skipping a wedding
    of my youngest niece, now a funeral for
    my only sister-in-law, since that first

    movie now almost eight years ago.
    I cannot piece it all together, make sense
    of it all; there is no perfect rhyme or reason, or
    season, except God wished her, to try to teach us

    how far we all fall short. My nephew, was
    still young then for that second movie too.
    The afternoon after the morning my brother
    called with the sad news, my father wished

    we all still travel to The Grange Fair,
    in his adopted county, so I drove
    my older brother, and dad, and me there,
    and we sat in the silence stunned, three men

    after the chicken meal with rolls and milk,
    in the humid summer heat, after the rain storm
    subsided, not knowing what to say, stunned,
    silent, thinking of a sister, Alissa, and a son, our brother,

    a father, and a husband too. Later, after we dropped
    dad off, my older brother and I drove back
    toward home, the fifty miles south, down 295 in
    our home state, my birth state, to the house

    we all grew up in as kids: “the boys,”
    the three of us, and our two older sisters,
     and mom, gone twenty years now, …
    and near where the freeway curves south –  

    east after crossing the Delaware River to New
    Jersey, her father’s original home state
    too I think, my brother and I saw two perfectly
    curved double rainbows, unbroken half circles from

    horizon to horizon, “more perfect than
    any I’d ever seen” as if that were a sign
    of some heaven, of some consolation, of some
    “silver lining” I never knew, and only she could

    fully understand. So, we must have faith that
    her silver lining she enjoys in heaven, of
    glory that we cannot comprehend here still
    in our native state in summer’s humid heat.

    Clouds with a Silver Lining
    Contributed By

    Daniel Picker studied with Seamus Heaney at Harvard, and went on to study English at Lincoln College Oxford and Middlebury College. His work has appeared in Harvard Review, The Sewanee Review, Sequioia, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Oxonian Review, and many more. His book of poetry, Steep Stony Road, was published in 2012.

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