BOOK REVIEW: Hard to Swallow by Pat & Bill Hurley

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Hard to Swallow by Pat & Bill Hurley is a beautiful collection of poetry.

The couple were married just weeks before Bill was diagnosed with cancer. The poems are arranged as a conversation between the husband and wife, with his poems in italics while hers are not. As he did not want to read any poems with angst, some of her poems were never seen by her husband; instead, they appear here as complimentary thoughts on their marriage and the experiences they shared in their short time together. She expresses her worry about his health, her admiration for his courage, and her despair of living without him. Some of her admissions are startling as well as moving.

From “Jealous”

OK, I’ll admit it.

I’m jealous of the cancer.

Ever since she moved in,

She’s had you breathless

He writes of his changing body and how he centers himself through meditation and the contemplation of labyrinths. He also writes of his love for her.

From “March 24, 2016”

…Perhaps angels are the nearest things to our souls, and

as such, are our closest companions to that which is divine.

Although it’s heartbreaking they only had a short time together, this book is a beautiful testament to living life to the fullest and appreciating every moment.

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POEM: I Remember

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I Remember

 

Seventeen years ago

the world changed

 

my world changed

 

Seventeen years ago

I held my infant son in my arms

as I watched the buildings burn

across every channel

 

as I watched the planes

hit the towers again

and again

and again

 

as I watched the billowing black smoke

the ash of the fallen

of the thrown

of the incinerated

 

of those who threw

their own lives away

to snatch the lives of innocents

for the crime working in a country they hated

 

I remember watching footage

on tv of people in foreign lands

dancing and cheering at the news of so many lives lost

and wondering why

 

I remember watching the face

of the child in my arms

and wondering

what kind of world he would live in

 

the same wondering I felt

when I had watched the news days after his birth

the news of the newborn babe found in a dumpster

his life thrown away

 

the same wondering I felt

when a gunman shot up kindergartners

looking forward to Christmas parties

and frosted glittery cupcakes

 

the same wondering I felt

when students shot up their high school,

then themselves, shooting

for simultaneous oblivion and notoriety

 

the same wondering I felt

when Batman fans died

crouching on floors and hiding behind seats

for the sin of making it to opening night

 

the same wondering I felt

when a middle schooler one district over

shot himself in his school’s bathroom,

imagining his blood splattered on floors and walls

 

the same wondering I felt

when a couple from my son’s own high school

shot themselves in the woods outside his friend’s home

not ten minutes away

 

the same wondering I felt

when I thought of those other families,

of the victims, heroes, loved ones,

of children growing up without mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers

 

the same wondering I feel

when I think how easily it could be me

 

 

 

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons license

**The above poem is dedicated to the families and victims of September 11th, as well as the victims of violence around the world throughout the years. May your loved ones never be forgotten. May you always be safe and free.