Less than two years after Erik’d death, his younger sister, Annika, wrote a poignant poem for high school. Its depth belies her young age. She was only 15 years old. I’ve also included the explanation her English teacher required for the assignment. Note: “Red Hands” are a metaphor for her sense of guilt, something all too common in those who grieve. She refers to the dragonfly because that’s how Erik has come to her.
My red hands alone cradle an empty chest.
Skies bruise into a deep violet.
Blackness falls from the grieving clouds.
The soil laments for its loss.
A palace becomes a frail shed.
A laugh becomes a haunting scream.
Shackles strangle the weakening flowers.
The lost is now found as a burden set between torn wings.
Suddenly, a light dagger releases all the drowning souls.
Dried eyes wearily regain the sun.
A silhouette of wings replaces the shadow of death.
Arms of light tighten around my own.
Dragonflies buzz wildly, whispering secrets.
With the dust gone, never has the sun dripped in like this.
The ground ceases to shake, waves calm to ripples.
Omniscient water flows within thirsty veins.
Earth blossoms when the realization is made.
Twenty candles are still and will forever be lit.
A brother was lost, but an angel is gained.
My clean hands—not alone—cradle a beating heart.
My intentions were to convey a tone of sorrow and loss but also renewal and awakening. The shift in mood contributes to the tone; for example, from red hands to clean hands represent the metamorphosis from guilt to acceptance. The image of Earth blossoming emphasizes the epiphany and the connotation between silhouette and shadow shows the difference between things that can negatively and positively loom over you. In the beginning, the lines are short and dramatic. As it progresses into a lighter tone, the sentences lengthen and flow more, representing the flow of light that is consuming the darkness. The first and last sentences show how the feeling in the poem has altered, yet both remain somewhat similar in structure to reveal the small amount grief that lingers.
Here is a self-explanatory video of Erik’s niece, Arleen, after she was pranked by him. The cool thing is that 5 year olds usually don’t make this kind of stuff up. (I hope I haven’t already posted this! I did a search for the appropriate keywords and couldn’t find it.)
Stay tuned soon for the last half of the Abe Lincoln’s interview.