In Memoriam Linda Sillitoe

Let her own works praise her in the gates:

Song of Creation

Who made the world, my child?
Father made the rain
silver and forever.
Mother’s hand
drew riverbeds and hollowed seas,
drew riverbeds and hollowed seas
to bring the rain home.
Father bridled winds, my child,
to keep the world new.
Mother clashed
fire free from stones
and breathed it strong and dancing,
and breathed it strong and dancing
the color of her hair.

He armed the thunderclouds
rolled out of heaven;
Her finger flickered
hummingbirds
weaving the delicate white snow
weaving the delicate white snow,
a waterfall of flowers.

And if you live long, my child,
you’ll see snow burst
from thunderclouds
and lightning in the snow;
listen to Mother and Father laughing,
listen to Mother and Father laughing
behind the locked door.

(Dialogue, Winter 1979)

Through a difficult growing up and all the years of trying to figure out how to be me and be a Mormon woman, this poem has sustained me, been vision enough of the destination to encourage me along the path. And it is at the very root of my conviction that poetry matters.

May her voice have long echoes.

Comments

  1. Amen, Kristine. Here’s to Linda Sillitoe, her sister poets, and the promise of lightning in the snow.

  2. Perfect, Kristine! Thank you. This is a wonderful counterpart to the discussion of “gender, authority and strange loops.” Linda would have had some provocative insights to add to that discussion.

  3. What a loss and what a legacy.

  4. John Taber says:

    I knew her primarily as “Aunt Linda” so I don’t think I’ve come close to grasping that legacy yet. (It was the same thing with Mom – Susan Buhler Taber. She and Linda were born fifteen months apart and died eleven weeks apart.) I know I’ve got a lot of reading to do here . . .

  5. Kristine says:

    Aw, John–what a blow for your family. I’m really sorry.

    (Incidentally, and I hope not too irreverently, your mom’s work was important to me, too, but mostly because I had a huge crush on the missionary whose farewell she describes in her groundbreaking ethnography of your ward in Delaware :)).

  6. John Taber says:

    Thanks. My stake president suggests that Mom called Linda home.

  7. Cynthia L. says:

    What a powerful poem. Thanks for putting up this thread, Kristine.

  8. Steve Evans says:

    Rest in peace Sis. Sillitoe. May your words spread far and deep in your absence.

  9. This is beautiful. Thank you.

  10. S.P. Bailey says:

    Beautiful poem. Condolences to Linda’s family.

  11. Lovely poem from a writer that I much admired. She will be missed.

  12. Peggy Fletcher Stack’s obit in the SL Tribune:

    http://www.sltrib.com/ci_14848736?IADID=Search-www.sltrib.com-www.sltrib.com

  13. WHOA–I should’ve said Peggy Fletcher Stack’s obit OF LINDA SILLITOE in the Trib.

  14. I forgot she wrote this too.

    I love Linda Sillitoe.

  15. laurenlou says:

    Wow, we just discussed this poem in my Lit of Mormon Women class on Tuesday. What a profound writer.

  16. Thanks for this, Kristine. It’s a sweet, sad, perfect memorial.

  17. Annette says:

    Thank you, Kristine. Linda is my sister. It is nice to see she made a difference in people’s lives beyond the family circle.

  18. Cynthia Sillitoe says:

    Kristine,

    Thank you so much for this tribute. It would mean so much to Mom. Though she followed many paths of writing, poetry was the first and nearest to her soul.
    As hard as it is to lose Susan and my mom in such a short time, I believe their reunion was sweet.

  19. Linda came to the dance early and stayed with it. Her voice was clear and balanced and serious. She knew how important her work was in bringing light and insight to the Mormon culture, and how dependably her writing, especially the poetry, brought joy and freedom from apology to women. I feel blessed to have known her. Condolences and Balm of Gilead to her family and loved ones.

  20. We miss you here, Aunt Linda. But your great work stays with us.

  21. Thank you all. I am thrilled to see the tributes she deserved. Linda was my hero, my champion, my rescuer, inspirer, example, sustainer, validator, counselor, and sister.

  22. Linda was a friend and mentor to me. Recently, I was asked to be poetry editor for Exponent II which is resuming publication with an issue due out in June. I contacted Linda at once to ask if we could feature her poetry. She agreed and we had just finalized arrangements a couple of weeks ago. Now it will be a memorial as well. Her work has always been an inspiration to me.

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