For Karen Diehl Evans: An Elegy

Karen Diehl Evans, 1947–2013

Karen Diehl Evans, 1947–2013

It is not an easy thing, being a writer in this world.  You must learn to hold just the right amount of darkness and just the right amount of light in the palms of your cupped hands, releasing each in equal measure, so as not to fall off balance.  Not to get caught off guard.  While doing this—because you must, because it is how you were made—you must also survive in the ferocious, ordinary world, which is largely indifferent to artistry.  It helps—immensely, in ways both conscious and unconscious—to have a guide along the way.  Someone who recognizes you for you, and tells you so.  Karen Diehl Evans was such a guide for me:  she encouraged me as a writer my entire life, from the time I was in high school right up through the creation of this blog.  Karen, who was a beautiful writer, died on Saturday night, after a long period of losing her light to her darkness.

As I think about her life, and the sadness I feel at the end of it, I find myself returning, always, to this: Karen had a great deal of light in her, enough to share with me and many other young people who she taught and guided.  It is because of her light that I loved her; it is because of her light that she told me, again and again and always, to write, and have faith, and walk in my own light.

My wish for Karen is that her spirit is awash in light, that she is lifted up in it and able to fly, to grow in laughing wonderful breathtaking ways.  My wish is that her spirit finds both joy and peace, that she is able to balance, in her artist’s soul, that which her hands were unable to hold.

Today, I honor Karen by publishing a poem she wrote and shared with me:  I have always loved it because it speaks of the wildness of things.

One of Those

I’m one of those people

who loves to see the weeds

in the cracks of the concrete,

jumpy feet taking altered

routes by animal instinct.

One of those people who loves to see

sprouts shooting out of cut tree trunks,

banned vegetation crawling out

from under wet bushes.

One of those people who loves

to see the slender hand slip out

of the banded bunch of daffodils,

or irises, green and tall and

not ready to give up and die.

One of those people who nods

to Virginia Creeper, to Crown Vetch,

clutching the driveway,

or the roadside, inching along,

just beside the black top,

reaching under, stretching under,

busting up the helpless layer

of rock, of tar,

the tender arms coming back

and coming back

and coming back.

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