Julie Liked Yellow Roses On Her Birthday
One of the few reliable sources of solace I found after the death of my wife, Julie, almost 19 years ago has been Donald Hall’s poetry dealing with the loss of his wife, poet Jane Kenyon.
I happened onto Donald Hall’s poem,”Gold,” initially because of its reference to yellow roses, Julie’s favorite flower – or, more accurately, Julie’s flower of choice to commemorate her birthdays and other events designated by retailers as “gift-giving opportunities.”
My search for this poem also fortuitously led to a comment Donald Hall made during a 1998 interview that acutely and poignantly describes my own perception of the time Julie were together:
What was the most beautiful thing in our marriage was when we weren’t aware that we were going to die. And we just had our routine. You know you look back on it, and you think, ‘Why wasn’t I aware of how blissful that was?’ But if you’d been aware of how blissful it was you would have been dreading losing it. Anybody who’s been through anything like this knows what I mean.1
The poem itself is a burnished gem that one must take in as a single, intricately unified entity to fully comprehend and experience, but it is that last gleaming, irrepressibly resolute stanza that evokes, with each reading, a gasp from my heart.
By Donald Hall
Pale gold of the walls, gold
of the centers of daisies, yellow roses
pressing from a clear bowl. All day
we lay on the bed, my hand
stroking the deep
gold of your thighs and your back.
We slept and woke
entering the golden room together,
lay down in it breathing
caressing and dozing, your hand sleepily
touching my hair now.
We made in those days
tiny identical rooms inside our bodies
which the men who uncover our graves
will find in a thousand years,
shining and whole.
A moving video of Donald Hall reading Gold can be viewed at Donald Hall – Gold.
Julie Showalter was the fiercely intelligent, sexy, and loving woman with whom I had a outrageously wonderful marriage that ended with her death in late 1999 from cancer diagnosed the week of our wedding nearly 20 years earlier. She was also a brilliant scholar, the mother of our two sons, and a prize-winning author. Many posts on this blog are about her and still others consist of her writings. Julie’s Story is the account of our unlikely romance, Information can be found at Julie Showalter FAQ.