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This Day is Broken

6/365: Grandparents Clock

Originally uploaded by cplong11

Today is Mack Brady’s birthday; he would have turned 9.

His father has recently written eloquently, even in his grief, about the theological questions the senseless death of a young boy raises. For him, it is not a question of God’s punishing anyone or of some grand divine plan, but of “the broken nature of the world.”

This W. H. Auden poem captures that brokenness; so I offer it here in memory of a birthday that should have been welcomed by the palpable excitement of an energetic little boy ready to enter into his ninth year of life.

W.H. Auden, via

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.


  • Thank you Chris for this fitting memorial and for choosing just the right picture from our trip to the MoMA. What I love is that while the women is in deep contemplation Mack, seen just beyond her arm, has an impish smile. That was always his way and I remember it with a smile of sweetness.

  • Katelyn Perry says:

    Oh,my….it does seem to me like the world should just STOP somehow when someone dies or tragedy strikes–particularly when the losses are such a shock. I remember feeling that way when Jamey's mother died in Greece with us, completely unexpectedly. I couldn't believe that everyday life was still happening, and it was so disconcerting at the time. I love this picture, too—you always manage to capture beautiful moments photographically.

  • dhawhee says:

    lovely, Chris. every word and image. (including images conjured by words).

  • cplong says:

    Chris, I keep returning to your Flickr page to find other beautiful images of Mack. I think that impish smile is beautifully captured by this one:

  • faith quote says:

    love, amazing high detail all the way to the creases

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