Richard Shields

Fall 2020: On the Theme of Tilt

Traveling Companion

In flight with my brother’s ashes at my feet
One last journey
Into the heights, soon to be delivered to the deep

I ponder the small receptacle of dust, absent of soul and spirit
There, sharing this space and time, but most certainly not there

Reduced to stowed baggage but replete with memory,
mostly sweetness, seasoned wit, abundance of good drink 
and the ever-present purr of cats

While scorched by the fires of 
well-intentioned but impossible expectations
and anger fueled by strident voices 
spawning contradictions
that did not reflect the true heart of the man

Who was kind to the children,
those scarred by war and left behind without limbs
Who suffered loss, and drank the cup of life’s bitterness
Who left us suddenly, silently, without a word

We descend to the final approach
Smiling attendants bid adieu as I 
walk with what remains of his earthly journey 

Down to the sea


Richard Shields is a husband, father, and Pops to his three year old grand-twins. 
He is currently retired from full-time work and spends most of his time between Illinois and West Michigan. 

These words were penned on a flight from Chicago to Seattle after his older brother’s sudden passing just before Christmas 2019. His remains were committed to Puget Sound in March 2020, just prior to the COVID lockdown. 

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