Ailey, Baldwin, Floyd, Killen and Mayfield

When great trees fall,
Rocks on distant hills shudder,
Lions hunker down
In tall grasses,
And even elephants
Lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
In forests
Small things recoil into silence
Their senses
Eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
The air around us becomes
Light, rare, sterile.
We breathe briefly,
See with a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
Gnaws on kind words
Promised walks
Never taken.

Great souls die and
Our reality, bound to
Them, takes leave of us.
Our souls
Dependent on their
Now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed and informed by their
Fall away. We are not much maddened
As reduced to the unutterable
Ignorance of cold dark caves.

And when great souls die,
After a period peace blooms.
Slowly and always
Irregularly. Spaces fill
With a kind of soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
Better. For they existed.

- Maya Angelou