book cover for The Urn

Get your copy:

From the author: Signed copies from the author via email query.

The Urn

Published by Finishing Line Press, 2011

At the Feet of Birds

I envy webbed feet of pelican,
anhinga, double-crested cormorant,
one on the cedar pylon
of a derelict wharf,
two on low telephone wires.
They grasp the hurricane’s
sweeping truth
and let go when it’s time.

I envy the long-toed feet
of all egrets and herons and ibis
to walk on water lilies,
to curl nimble digits over
an edge of limestone,
sink ankle deep in mudflat muck.
They grasp the tidal mandate to
obey life’s ebb and flow
and let go when it’s time.

I envy the taloned among them:
red-shouldered hawk, bald eagle,
osprey, and swallow-tail kite,
lording over the Earth from above
mangrove islands, sloughs of
pond apples, the River of Grass.
With a parliament of owls,
they grasp the eternal law
and let go when it’s time.

In my envy, I wish to possess
the power of Everglades birds
to hold on. I wish to become
a roseate spoonbill and learn
how to grasp life firmly,
then let go when it’s time.



We hate to think about it, but most of us have to because we know someone who’s struggling with it, maybe someone we love, or we’ve been the ones to suffer—and have been fortunate to survive. Or we’ve already lost someone dear. Or perhaps it’s been another life-threatening disease whose specter lurks. Parkinson’s disease. Lou Gehrig’s. MS….

My beloved husband Roger Weir had prostate cancer…then in Stage IV, the final stage. There’s no curing it at this point, but, thankfully, his treatment regimen held the monster at bay for a while longer. As his wife, I stood by his side, struggling with him, always celebrating our marriage as I pondered the future of a life without him. And, as a poet, I explored the idea of widowhood in words. My poems taught me this: The most powerful cancer-fighting drug known to humankind is: Love. Those are the poems in The Urn. It’s a book both somber and joyous. It was my gift to Roger—my “pre-elegy” poems as friend and fellow poet William Heyen called them—a memoriam to Roger that he could cherish before his ashes returned to the Earth.

Book Review:

“Before Widowhood: No Vacancy Here” by Danielle Blasko; available online from issuu.

Romantic Poetry

I The Urn, her powerful pre-elegy collection, Karla Linn Merrifield offers “part of herself to be buried alive/ with her husband.” Part. And he will be thankful that she is able to reserve some part of herself still to live when he bequeaths to her her widowhood. These poems are wrenching, filled with the fear that generates them against old age and cancer, but also filled with love so fierce that the reader holds breath in witness, drawn into the body of the lyric poet whose spirit will help her, we hope, “grasp life firmly ,then let go when it’s time.” Amen.

– William Heyen, author of Shoah Train: Poems, Finalist for the National Book Award

In her strongest offering yet, Karla Linn Merrifield again finds music in nature that eludes most of us. Here she takes that music to the bottom of human longing, need, and grief. These poems carry us with her through the terrible things that nature throws at her, into a darkness that is also light, where we learn what it is to “fall prey,” and “to feed on the final/ drumbeats of our time.” These are thick and tough poems that stop us, make us take a breath, and read again.

– Steven Huff, author of More Daring Escapes; publisher, Tiger Bark Press

Karla Linn Merrifield Images


Rated five stars on Goodreads
Reviewed by Danielle, March 3, 2011

It was amazing. The Urn, in its entirety, is a pre-elegy homage to the poet’s husband, Roger M. Weir, whose struggle with Stage 4 cancer has brought the poet face-to-face with “the enemy Death.” Merrifield skillfully approaches the realm of nature poetry elevating the dialogue between the natural world and human nature to whole new level of interaction. I found myself returning to the chapbook again and again.

Get your copy:

From the author: Signed copies from the author via email query.