On Oahu on Your Birthday, 2017

by Susanne Braham

I’ll remember, forever, one cold, November night.
Suddenly, you were a lifeless lump, slumped across our bed.
As your face turned shades of purple, I panicked,
unable to breathe life back into a mouth I knew so well.
Thirty-three years of kisses.

Later, at the hospital, given a chance
to kiss you good-bye,
I couldn’t bring myself to even touch you.

The you I’d once known had quietly slipped away.

Now, fourteen years later, it’s your birthday.
Seeking communion with your spirit,
I float a lotus-like flower
out upon the waters of Waikiki Beach.

Time and distant journeys
have washed away a widow’s sorrows.
But not her memories.
You and me on this enchanted island will live on
in ever-sharper focus, like the night heron,
intent to snag his evening meal of fish.

Joyfully we’d snorkeled in pristine Hanauma Bay,
sharing our silent, underwater language,
holding hands, nudging each other
to watch the brilliant humuhumu,
coming and going,
sometimes as swiftly as Death
that would take you one day
without warning.


Susanne Braham began writing poetry following the sudden death in 2002 of her 56-year-old husband. Five of her poems appear in two anthologies about widowhood and she also writes dialogues, short stories, essays, and nonfiction. Prior to retirement, she worked for more than 17 years as an editor for Columbia University in New York City.


Filed under Poetry

6 responses to “On Oahu on Your Birthday, 2017

  1. I love this poem, so raw, sad and powerful. Thank you.

  2. Emily

    Fine poem. Ms. Braham sustains a difficult, restrained, heartfelt emotion. The peace and beauty of place is wonderfully evoked, too.

  3. Hello Admin,

    It is very nice that your blog is providing information regarding the program. I want to aware you towards the” LTC Nursing Home Administrator Scholarship” that is available for the USA students who are enrolled in an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree program at an accredited 2-year college or 4-year university.

    Application Deadline is December 31, 2017

    For more information, you can go through –

  4. Lynne Mijangos

    Beautiful song of love and remembrance, Susanne.

  5. Mark Wisan

    Thank you for sending me this beautiful poem. Jane and I have been profoundly moved by it.

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