Jepson Island

for D. H. C., Jan. 7, 1927-July 30, 1997

If only the roses could throw off
their mantle of death, the half-sheared
mid-summer cape of blooms—
long past prime and drying,
their petals flaking like dead skin to the touch—
still draped across the tower of thorns
that rises above your roof.

Always, before, you disrobed death
in a few July days of deft clipping
from a ladder.
The briars grabbed and nibbled
at your skin. But you prevailed.

No longer. Now the sun
will rise, forever, and forever,
on the unfinished work.

Still, your voice rises
in storm gusts from the north,
the vastness of your breath
taking those dead blooms again.

Your littlest grandson hears it yet,
and oblivious to irony,
runs as boats approach and shouts,
“Bompie’s coming back!”

But so you are, albeit in younger forms, already here.
The children have absorbed in their short years
your many gifts–that trademark twinkle,
reassuring blinks and waggles of the tongue,
firm grip and loving eye,
silent blessings that bid us to go on.

“Jepson Island” was first published in Kudzu in 1998.

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Alyssa A. Lappen is a U.S.-based investigative journalist. She is the former Managing Editor at the Leeb Group (2012-2017); a former Senior Fellow of the American Center for Democracy (2005-2008); and a former Senior Editor of Institutional Investor (1993-1999), Working Woman (1991-1993) and Corporate Finance (1991). She served six of her 12 years at Forbes (1978-1990) as an Associate Editor. Ms. Lappen was also a staff reporter at The New Haven Register (1975-1977). During a decade as a freelance, her work appeared in Big Peace, Pajamas Media, Front Page Magazine, American Thinker, Right Side News, Family Security Matters, the Washington Times and many other Internet and print journals. Ms. Lappen also contributed to the Terror Finance Blog, among others. She supports the right of journalists worldwide to write without fear or restriction on politics, governments, international affairs, terrorism, terror financing and religious support for terrorism, among other subjects. Ms. Lappen is also an accomplished poet. Her first full-length collection, The Minstrel's Song, was published by Cross-Cultural Communications in April 2015. Her poems have been published in the 2nd 2007 edition of Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust and both 2007 issues of Wales' award-winning Seventh Quarry: Swansea Poetry Magazine. Dozens of her poems have appeared in print and online literary journals and books. She won the 2000 annual Ruah: A Journal of Spiritual Poetry chapbook award and has received a Harvard Summer Poetry Prize and several honorable mentions.

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