At the end of October we lost another poet from our community: Colin B. Douglas. Colin has been coming to Speak For Yourself Open Mic for so long that I can’t remember his first week. He’s just been a fixture since the beginning. He was one of the founding members of Rock Canyon Poets and had a permanent seat at “the cool kids table” on Thursday nights.
We shared a deep faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ and a deep love of poetry, but in many ways were very different. He delivered many a kindly lecture that I took under advisement and sorted through later. Sometimes the only take-away was that this thoughtful man genuinely cared about me, but often he pointed me towards poets whose work would inform my own or gave me insight into history that I was too young to have in my bones. He gave me and my work the privilege of his attention and he approached both with curiosity and without judgment.
His funeral was beautiful. It was both conventionally Mormon and not conventionally Mormon, which seemed a perfect reflection of his life. His daughter Liz gave a not-eulogy (poignantly because “a eulogy feels like the period a sentence” and I agree–this transition is not final punctuation for Colin). We learned a lot of delightful things about Colin-before-I-knew-him. He once chopped off part of his finger while chopping wood because he was composing a poem in his head! He took books of French poetry to read during the down time at his son’s soccer games. And when he was in the bishopric he would hold his feet a few inches off the ground during sacrament meeting so he wouldn’t fall asleep on the stand.
His granddaughter read a lovely poem she had written for him and the hymns for the meeting were performed gorgeously by a pair of folk singers with a guitar. His son Mike told stories and shared quotes that rang in our minds with Colin’s distinctive voice and cadence. He also shared Colin’s last words, which landed in my heart with the force of any good poem. In his final moments, with great effort, he said, “Be unfailingly kind.”
A poet to the end, he knew how to craft that final line.