For Dongria (a memory)

Last week, I came across a writing prompt inviting people to ‘write an elegy that focuses on a memory that would be considered uncommon or surprising. See where it takes you.Where it took me was a memory of Dongria, who died last month. In the 1980s and before my time in Peace Studies, Dongria had been a student there. Much later, when I took groups of students for field trips in the Calder Valley, Dongria was a real inspiration to them. The photo is of one of the talks she gave for us, speaking with her hands as well as her voice. One of the stories she told us was how she decided to give up the academic study of high-level climate talks for the grounded work of planting more resilient landscapes and communities. I’m grateful for the times our journeys intersected and for the ways in which she reminded me of what is important.

Last time we spoke was by chance,
on a train. You on your journey
home from what wasn’t
a cure, from a day made long
by almost forgetting some
thing, by retracing your steps.
I from the work you had chosen
not to pursue.

I remember we talked about soup;
about students and trees and
the work you could no longer do.
And the work that you could:
make soup.

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