August 24, 2017

This poem was written by Krista's good friend Jeremy in Santa Cruz, Bolivia for Krista Hunt Ausland on the night of Krista's death.


I celebrate your joy.

The night I met you we saw gauchos
stomp black boots, wave white sombreros,
twirl rings of fire. Laughter danced
in your eyes and your face flickered
in the half-dark as we tried to talk
above charangos, quenas, and drums.

Already in the throaty throb
of that music I knew your joy.
I learned more about the dance
of your life when you begged Aaron
to learn folk-steps on the cancha after cards.

Later in the green elegance of a quince party.
Aaron escorted you to the turf to dance.
A love-dance. Lively from love,
drinking juicy band music,
You asked me to join in a joy-dance.

You held both my hands and I shuffled
on the lawn, feet heavy as stones. 
Now in darkness the weight of marble
my stomach churns from too many tears
and I hear only my heartbeat; a tricky rhythm, 
like Aaron's drumming on talent night.

The table is cool to my face warm from weeping.
Against the heavy harmony of silence 
I sing to prolong music quiet too soon:
your dance, the dance of your life.

How to hear these fragments of song,
these jagged melodies? They barb us,
gouge us, gore us. They chill us,
these dances frozen in the heart of sway.

If I cannot prolong your dance, I will
proclaim it. I will proclaim your dance 
to God and to the world. I will celebrate 
a dance of flavors: tomatoes, oregano, basil
when you cooked pasta with me in the kitchen.

I will remember how you made me laugh,
how laughter swam in your voice.
I won't forget the way you giggled and tugged
at Aaron's questions across the supper table,
both wishing for a cup of Starbuck's coffee.

Paging through my journal and listening 
to the night, I hear hens in 
recitative. Dogs whimper.
leaves flap, or angel-wings.

Treetops bend and sway, like my spirit
this night: bowing yet dancing.
And in the breeze that lures these trees to praise
I almost hear you singing hallelujah.


Jeremy Funk served as a Mennonite Central Committee Volunteer in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and befriended Aaron and Krista when they arrived for training in the city. Living with physical disabilities, including cerebral palsy, he enjoyed his first dance with Krista at a quincenera for the daughter of a Bolivian staff member. Jeremy is a graduate of Wheaton College (Illinois), Northern Illinois University, and Princeton Theological Seminary. A talented writer and strong thinker, Jeremy currently works as a copy editor at Wipf and Stock Publishers in Eugene, Oregon.

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