Grapefruit is a 14-year-old tabby cat. He spends his days now walking and moaning as he searches the house on Rodman Street that he shared with Joy, his life-long mistress. He knows that something is wrong because she is not there to love him and to care for him.  He searches for what he misses, but for what he will not find because Joy N. Kraus, poet, mother, caretaker, lover of us all, died the morning of March 3, 2020.

When I read the email telling of Joy’s death, I sent it  to Druin, a friend of hers who lives in Oxfordshire, England. Below is his worthy response:

Oh, I am sorry to hear of it. I think the poem below was the last email of hers I had.


In a small death I’ll hang,

a thought unspoken, a song unsung,

awaiting the tap that tells me

all is ready, gives me leave

to stage my Easter Day.


If I may choose a way to signal you

from other worlds, it will be

as a yellow butterfly.         JNK 1995

Joy was many personalities: The lady never met a piece of chocolate she did not like; a lover of animals who placed a bowl of water on her sidewalk for those who thirsted and treats in her back garden every night for the foragers; she appreciated and enjoyed her children; she appreciated a well-turned phrase; the trips to Spain with her children gave her pleasure (as did the young Spanish men in their tight pants); her poetry allowed her expression; riding her Razor scooter to NCS made her free; and so much more that only we who loved her know, for Joy was that friend who carried separate relationships for each of us.

Now, if I sent this essay to Joy for editing, she would jump on me for the repeating of the word appreciated in the above paragraph. She would continue to gently correct any grammar errors and slips in construction. Joy expected us to use our language correctly. As she did. (oops, As did she.)

So many of us had our life with Joy Kraus. She and I shared family, love of language and literature, emails with Druin, her poems, and my ramblings that she always edited. Robert Graves wrote a handbook for writers titled The Reader Over Your Shoulder in which he shares wisdom concerning the written word. Joy was my reader over my shoulder. No more will I read her sharp remarks concerning my errors, but saddest of all is that the folder on my computer marked Kraus’ Poems will not grow.

The understanding voice of Butterfly is stilled. Her insights on living, loving, laughing, and so much more are now but words on a page, yet don’t be surprised if we hear reports this spring of a yellow butterfly fluttering in dance by the ginkgo tree near North Circle of The Close.

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