I thought it would be appropriate to start the year here in the Northfield City Council chambers with a poem in memory of one of the first women elected to public office in Rice County, Molly Woerhlin, who passed away on December 23. Molly was a woman of tough, practical kindness, who left a legacy that enriches all of us in Northfield. As I remember her, and reflect on what she did with her life, I think about how much good we can do with the one life we are given, and how much more good we can do when we join that life with the lives of others.
January 3, 2017
Another year is gone,
taking with it so many cherished lives,
so many dreams that seemed so possible at the start.
It was common in the last days of the year to count our losses,
to share the tally of the year’s cruel subtractions,
as if the only solidarity we could find was in our grief.
Each December day was filled with a little more darkness.
But sometimes we have to make our own light.
Not long after the longest night of the year, I found myself
remembering that unmowed strip of lawn
in front of Molly’s house on Maple Street,
where every summer the daisies bloomed,
and all those common flowers massed together seemed
like a table laid for some kind of sacrament.
I remembered how, in the solitary summers of childhood,
I used to pluck the white petals—she loves me not,
she loves me—as if those petals tallied losses that were the condition of love.
But thinking of Molly and her daisies, I know that love
is what happens when we add our one blossom to the blossoming all around us.