(Delivered at UUSF on July 7, 2019. See a video here or listen to the audio here)
I hang my poem out to dry
Where sun can warm and birds can fly
Where wind can blow the drops apart
Where life can feel about to start.
That's the start of my mom's book of poetry, Spirits, Songs, and Spaces by Dr. Nadja Ellen Kuller. Poetry was always important to her, and one of the ways she showed that was by sharing it with me. When I was a kid, I remember she would sit me down at a typewriter so I could come up with poems myself. A couple years ago, I had lunch with some of my old elementary school teachers, and those short rhyming couplets I came up with were the things that they talked about. The things that stuck in their mind.
My mom's poems were simple, but they were important to her, they helped her distill down complex thoughts, and they stuck in your mind.
She was an orthopedic surgeon, not a professional poet. She never published that poem or any other, but when she died and we wanted to make something to remember her by, we collected her poems together into a book. And I'm glad we did. I think it captures a little bit of the spirits, songs, and spaces that were important to her. When you read the poems, you can see why she moved out west to Oregon. How important nature was to her. How important her family was to her. How she put her soul into her work.
This last poem I'll share with you is called "The Woman Who Lived in a Cloud":