I am not ashamed to admit that I have a large personal library of poetry collections. Because poetry books have narrow spines making them hard to identify at a distance, I keep them in meticulous alphabetical order by poet’s last name. Except for two poets. Eva Saulitis and Peggy Shumaker’s books would ordinarily be about six inches apart on my shelf, but because it brings me pleasure to put them next to each other, I do. I think of their words whispering back and forth to each other. Their literary hearts beating together.
Today marks the sixth anniversary of Eva’s passing. I think of her often in the morning as I attempt to scratch things down in my notebook while watching the same mountains brighten that she watched with her notebook open. She wrote and wrote. Between 2008 and 2016, she produced five books: two collections of poetry and three books of personal essays. And she taught and advocated and worked as a scientist.
Eva didn’t waste time wishing she could write. She wrote.
So let me share one of her poems for today and let us all take encouragement from her dedication to the writing craft. If you want to write, write. Don’t let anything stand in your way.
is to climb on four limbs
is to grab branches, moss-grown
is to hand-hold crowberry sphagnum
is to dig heels into leaf-death
is to crawl up scree fall
is to pull the body into the saddle
where anemones tremble
in the southwest gale
is to go where plants are glossed
is to go where grasses nod
to what might be listening
in that no-so-lonely place
is to ask
be with me when I fall
written by Eva Saulitis from Prayer in Wind
Purchase Eva’s books from the Homer Bookstore
Love, Eva. We were close in her last days. One morning I posted from Anchorage on her CaringBridge page. “The sun is just rising above those mountains.” She replied, “I see it, too.”
My husband was fighting cancer. He called her his hero. He lived about five more years. Died February 2 of last year… The anniversary approaches now. RIP Eva. Love you.
Your words and Eva’s are filled with love. Thank you, Erin.
I have many of her letters from 1980 to 2000 that I read. They push me into the past. She has always been a writer. I think she has always seen the world from a writers view. On the surface she can come across as timid, maybe quiet, but she was a warrior with deadly aim for the truth. I grew up with the assumption there were many Eva’s, and found in the end there was only one. What a gift to have known the one.