I go to where there is no thought, inside a Minotaur of silence.” – from the poem “Made by Hand” in Dora
As much as she delighted in the visual world, Claire loved words. She often said, “Not by appointment do we meet delight.” She was able to capture an abundance of feeling in the steel trap of her words.
Claire died with her daughter, Bess, in a plane crash in Kenya in July, 2013. She was 49 and Bess was 22. They were on a mother & daughter celebration of Bess’s graduation from Georgetown University.
Claire Alexandra Murray Clube was born on September 8, 1963 in Oddstock, a town in Wiltshire, England, not far from Stonehenge. Claire felt she would live to be an old woman. Being fifteen years older, I assumed I’d die first. Together seven years, married the last four, this was a second marriage. We knew each other as intimately as two people could in such a short time.
Besides her two children, Jake and Bess, poetry was Claire’s North Star. She perused what she called ‘the barely there,’ the liminal in the mineral, vegetable, animal and especially personal. On our walks she carried a small magnifying glass at the end of a sommelier’s loop. Her intensity allowed her poems to evolve into poetry about the natural world and what it’s like to be a woman in our age. She published one book of poetry, Dora, and one artist book, RaptRocks, about her ‘sculpture’ she could hold in the palm of her hand. With the singer, Anne Heaton, she produced an album of her poems made into song, called Dora.
Both books were printed privately before she died. The day they died I was at our home in Virgin, Utah, packing to join them in Greece for an August holiday.
Flying back from La Martie’s camp in Laikipia, they entered foul weather in the Aberdare Mountains and lost visibility. The pilot turned the plane the wrong way, into the mountain. They died on impact. I knew none of this that day, but received a text from Claire that I later understood she had sent ten minutes before the crash. She texted: “I feel free. I feel close to god, and there are angels all around me.”
I smiled to read it; pure Claire. It arrived a little before 7am in Utah, but it took a week to understand its timing for Claire. Did she have an intuition, or was she just telling me how she felt? In either case, the text was a small mercy.
We lease a bothy in the highlands of Scotland in Glen Etive. Friends helped provide a memorial birdbath for Bess and Claire. Birds are spirit. The thought of birds landing on the bath for a drink is a constant reminder and metaphor that spirit touches ground. The green slate was pulled from the quarry at Ambleside in the Lake District. William Wordsworth lived near-by and worked in the town at the Old Stamp House.
Lida Kindersley’s son Vincent carved the birdbath at their workshop in Cambridge, England. The stone sits under a Scots pine in Glen Etive near the stream where we picnicked. The words circling the bath are Claire’s text:
“I feel free. I feel close to god and there are angels all around me”
There’s the wall clock and another type of time that’s full of memory. Occasionally, the two forms of time blend to become a stepping-stone to a taste of the eternal. Think how you credit the odd conjunctions of your dreams. Or how long-ago memories arise in the present. Or times you’ve danced so hard, sung so hard, or prayed so hard that you lost your sense of time. Claire remembered eleven former lives and the current of people in them. She vividly saw herself appearing inside different cultures and eons. She said we’d been betrothed twice, thwarted lovers, an old married couple, courtiers at Queen Elizabeth’s court and a Japanese master and her disciple. The memorystone is the story’s tangible cross-time, cross-current.
Quoted from “When it gets Dark Enough, you can See the Stars” by Robert Perkins
An artist whose work is for women and about Nature
An Artist and mother, graduate of the low residency writing program at Bennington college, Bennington Vermont. A top honors Graduate of Leith’s School Of Food & Wine in London.