Poem for Mackenzie
SUNY Jefferson
Schedule an Admissions Appointment

Poem for Mackenzie

Joshua Dickinson

How can we ask for a thirteen-year-old girl not to have felt something
Knowing they are alive to so much more than
The old, the unseeing?

Just a glance at her photo on the funeral home’s site, amongst those aged, expectant faces, tells
this.  She had those kind eyes that, as the obituary notes, go with the fact that “She loved little
ones, especially babies.”

Yet that is what I ask—that pain was cut short,
The appalling lurch you found yourself taken by
Would end—not end you.

There was no bargain, as if life was intent on reminding us
“No guarantees.”
How we should have remembered to warn everyone
Of every action, consequence,
Negative possibility.

Nobody could function that way
Much less on a farm. There is work.
It is done. Wordlessly.
Slips and half-chances at disaster are common.
Usually avoided and forgotten.

Yet I know you did suffer, and this wrenches me,
Pains me in ways I’m still discovering,
Me with my twins your age,
My son your older brother’s age
Classmates all.

If it is worth noting, I can say that I will take nothing for granted
And do it—not just meant to. . .

That you have made us more, a reminder to live one’s days, not a lessening.
Though we are diminished without a spark such as yours around,
Lesser because someone like you could be harmed.
We must be intentional, catch glimpses of light thrown out even by shadowcasting.

So I hope you did not suffer long, and that your days were as beautiful as
Our imagination needs them to be. Life can last in other ways.
Not bargaining for the first body, we can keep you here in our attempts,
Keeping that second self going out into the world, coming back in what is noticed.
Insignificant enough compared to what you were,
But still signifying, trying out your wings upon the world.