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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

The Commissioned Poem

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of writing a poem for someone on a subject of their choice. This is something I rarely do. I had donated a gift certificate for a poem to a silent auction fund raiser in December and the winner called to claim it in late February.

I had done this before. A poem for a good cause seems appropriate. In the past the redeemed donation had turned into a love poem, a poem for a new home, another love poem, a poem to commemorate a travel adventure. This time my work was to help immortalize a dearest companion, a Husky.

Writing a poem for someone, about something very dear to their heart, is not an easy task. Not everyone thinks of poems the same way. This time I included a copy of my book, “The Fates,” in the auction so that the buyer would have an idea of the kind poems I write.

I have lots of artist friends whose least favorite thing to do is to sketch or paint or build something whose inspiration is not their own. It is tough to get into somebody else’s head and to mirror what others believe to be beautiful, exact or a fitting tribute. I understand their pain. Talent for money seems to be in some part selling your soul.

But this was a donation and an act I felt the Universe was calling me to perform. I was not disappointed. I really loved writing this poem and I was pretty much satisfied with the outcome. Although I admit at first I wondered (as at the beginning of any creative act) Can I really do this?

The woman who purchased my poem wanted a piece to commemorate her soulmate: a beloved dog who had passed away. I loved hearing her describe the life they had together. Clearly the term soulmate was completely appropriate here. This person felt a connection to all animal life but her kinship with this creature she rescued in Alaska ran deepest. She showed me photos and told wonderful stories of their life together.

As I worked on the poem, I felt so blessed to participate even a little in the miracle of this connection. What a gift to be able to explore how souls unite and strengthen each other! I never know when a poem is ‘done’ but in this case I needed to finish in about a week so that I could send the poem before my heart and mind would be occupied with my husband’s surgery.

She thanked me and said the poem was a fitting tribute.

I don’t have the energy to write commissioned poems often, but I think I would like to do a couple a year. It is an honorable way to write and one that always teaches me empathy which for me is a huge part of my poem making.

If I was reading this blog post, I would want to read the poem also. So here it is:

Forever Companion

            In Memory of Kootz, 2006-2017

As if one life is not enough

    she found you on a wild island

        of loneliness and beauty

             and offered you hers.

Five weeks old with eyes like golden

     magic, you knew each other forever

          in that first wriggle and romp.

You named her for her native place:

      Kootz, daughter of the Kootznoowoo,

people known as “Fortress of the Bear.”

Every single person who ever met her

     loved her, the way she awakened in you

         pure animal joy.

Dashing through waves in seagull pursuit,

     paw print in damp sand

           etched forever on your arm.

She was Husky, which is to say

     a part of every breed that ever roamed

the islands: Rottweiler, adoring

      its owner, Jack Russell, even wolf.

She dreamed next to you at night,

      body to body in a bed shared

           with six rescued cats.

What would memory be without a hedgehog

       toy and sport of Nosework, game

of scent detection. How she loved to play

sprinting and returning while never

      leaving your side. As if one soul

is not enough, she is yours forever now,

           your shadow and your light.

  • Joanne M. Clarkson, March 2020

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