Gayle Nybakken

This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love; the more they give, the more they possess.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

I first met Gayle the year she moved to Portland, back I think in 2004. She had a most amazing laugh, and presence. She passed recently, and we went to her memorial service. She was a character; a working class heroine who was in the pioneering edge of modern feminism. She was a bundle of love, and very, very opinionated. 80) She never minced words, and you could always count on getting a direct answer. She had a most interesting life. I didn’t know the half of it until she died. I wish I’d known earlier.

Gayle, lots miss ya. A brilliant journey for you I hope.

(The picture above is the container that Gayle asked her ashes to be put in!)

The following poem: “To Be Of Use”, was used in the program at her memorial. I find it incredibly moving.

Take Care,



To Be Of Use

The people I love the best

jump into work head first

without dallying in the shallows

and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.

They seem to become natives of that element,

the black sleek heads of seals

bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,

who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,

who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,

who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge

in the task, who go into the fields to harvest

and work in a row and pass the bags along,

who are not parlor generals and field deserters

but move in a common rhythm

when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.

Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.

But the thing worth doing well done

has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.

Greek amphoras for wine or oil,

Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums

but you know they were made to be used.

The pitcher cries for water to carry

and a person for work that is real.

Marge Piercy

A picture of Gayle from the early 60′s.


Sarah Vaughn – What Lola Wants…

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