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Posts Tagged ‘grief’

Grand Scale




Today I am grateful to remember I’m small—
a woman who lives in a deep river canyon
surrounded by fourteen-thousand foot peaks
in state the size of New Zealand
in the fourth largest country on Earth
on the fifth largest planet in our solar system
which has a radius of three billion miles
in a galaxy one hundred thousand light years in diameter
in an observable universe of ninety-three billion light years.
I sit at the end of the deep river canyon
and look at my two cupped hands.
What I can carry is so small.
What carries me is so great.
I offer it my grief.
For a moment, I am weightless.

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How



How do we live at the traumatic center of death and life?
            —Rabbi Irwin Kula, Original Thinkers Festival 2022


A single moment contains
the scent of warm pumpkin pie
and the gravedigger’s spade,
the splatter of blood
and the smooth honeyed flesh of mango.
Did we ever believe we would live
this life unscathed?
Oh, the stab of loss
and the clean, mineral perfume of rain.
Oh, the ache of loss
and the deep golden sunflowered yes.
Oh, the carving of loss
and the sweet subtle tang of apples in fall.
Oh, the ache, bless the ache,
oh, the beauty, the loss,
oh, the beauty, the loss, oh, the beauty.

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The Prayers

When I asked the world to open me,
I did not know the price.
When I wrote that two-word prayer in the sand,
I did not know loss was the key,
devastation the hinge,
trust was the dissolution
of the idea of a door.
When I asked the world to open me,
I could never have said yes to what came next.
Perhaps I imagined the waves
knew only how to carry me.
I did not imagine they would also pull me under.
When I asked the world to open me,
I had not imagined drowning
was the way to reach the shore.
The waves of sorrow dragged me down
with their tides of unthinkable loss.
The currents emptied my pockets
and stripped me of my ideas.
I was rolled and eroded
and washed up on the sand
like driftwood—softened.
I sprawled there and wept,
astonished to still be alive.
It is not easy to continue to pray this way.
Open me.
And yet it is the truest prayer I know.
The other truest prayer,
though sometimes it frightens me,
is Thank you.

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Remembering


for Finn (9/11/04-8/14/21)


I threw rocks in the river today.
Not because I thrill to throw rocks,
but because I love to remember
how you thrilled to throw rocks.
How you squealed at the spray
and clapped your hands at the sound
of the quiescent surface being broken.

Your joy was the pure joy of life itself,
life that knows itself through tossing,
through splattering, through squealing,
life that longs to stand on the bank
and throw rock after rock after rock.
Joy was never in the rock itself,
it wasn’t even in the splash,

nor is there joy in the rocks today.
But there is joy in feeling close to you here.
Joy in the memory of you being so alive.
Joy in remembering your smile,
your hands flying up in delight.
Joy, even, in the longing for you.
I throw rock after rock. I remember.

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How might openness, connection and compassion grow from grief? That’s what I explore in three poems published today in the wonderful ONE ART: a journal of poetry. In addition to our country’s history with 9/11, it would have been my son Finn’s 18th birthday today. For all who are grieving, my heart opens to yours. May we find spaciousness in our hearts for ourselves and each other.

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Not that the sorrow became smaller.
Not that I stashed it away.
Not that I moved through it.
More as if a spaciousness grew,
as if the lens of life had been zoomed in tight
and slowly, slowly it widened.
Or as if I’d been cupping my hands
around something precious
and finally I trusted I could open my hands
and that precious thing would not fly away—
or perhaps it would, and I would still be fine.
All I know is today, I feel it,
not only the sorrow, but also
an inner vastness, a capaciousness,
an ability to breathe, to be opened,
as if my own back has turned
into a window. As if my heart
has become clear sky.

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Like a pale blue ribbon,
soft and lovely,
your words are woven
through the nest that has held me
since the merciless shot of loss.
Your poems meet me again and again
with their open eyes
and their open hands.
They say, Rest here,
sweetheart. I understand.
You, with your pilgrim heart,
your insistence on devotion,
you have cradled me
with your honesty.
Long before I knew
I needed to be saved,
your words found me,
stitched through me with love
as if that is what words are for.

*
Dear friends, here is where you can find out more about the remarkable Gregory Orr. 

And here is where you can find one of his poems that has saved me in the past year. 

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Mycelial




Now I understand how grief
is like a mushroom—
how it thrives in dark conditions.
How it springs directly
from what is dead.
Such a curious blossoming thing,
how it rises and unfurls
in spontaneous bourgeoning,
a kingdom all its own.

Like a mushroom,
most of grief is never seen.
It grows and expands beneath everything.
Sometimes it stays dormant for years.

Grief, like a mushroom,
can be almost unbearably beautiful,
even exotic, delicate, veiled,
can arrive in any shape and hue.
It pulls me closer in.

Like a mushroom, grief
asks me to travel to regions
of shadow and dim.
I’m astonished by what I find—
mystery, abundance, insight.
Like a mushroom, grief
can be wildly generative.
Not all growth takes place
in the light.

This poem was published in ONE ART: A Journal of Poetry on 9/11/22

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Relative Key


 
 
I paid extra for the bell
with a beautiful sound,
knowing we would ring it
one hundred and eight times
on the anniversary of your death.
I wanted it to be beautiful.
I wanted to play a sound
that would reach
to wherever you are
and offer you peace.
There are bells that ring
danger or failure or shame,
bells that clang with dissonance,
bells that toll only melancholy.
I have heard those bells.
But for you, my boy,
the bell we rang for you
pealed with a brilliant, shining ring,
a rousing chiming,
a surprising harmony
that opened the evening
with new light,
a ringing that rhymed
with new colors I’ve found in my heart—
the shimmering blue of enduring hope,
the glimmering gold of companioning.
I could still hear the blue
and the resonant gold
long after the bell stopped ringing.
 

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Exactly a year ago I posted a message instead of a poem, explaining I needed a time away. Two weeks later I explained why. It was almost two months later I posted my son Finn’s obituary. In the last year, I have been so humbled by the love and support and kindness of people. So many of you reached out to me in some way, and whether it was with a letter, an email, a gift, a call, a prayer, your thoughts, a song, or your energetic presence, I am grateful. It has mattered. You, with your love and goodness, you have not only buoyed me, you have changed me. I don’t know how anyone would ever survive such a loss without such an outpouring. I thank you, every one of you, I thank you, I thank you. I am sobbing now thinking of it–all the love. This poem tries to touch it, but, well, it’s just the surface. I am swirling gratefulness around all of you. I honor your losses that have made you who you are, that have made you so tender and generous toward others.
With abiding awe, 
Rosemerry



Though I Knew Love Before



Not until my world dissolved
in an instant did I begin to understand
the communion of hearts.
Not until I could not put one minute
in front of the next did I begin
to understand infinite devotion.
Not until I lost my own flesh did I begin
to understand the muscle of spirit.
I will never love the loss, never,
but I love the life that rushes in after.
I love the intimacy
of those who have lost—
how we find each other and offer
our open embrace, our unwalled affection,
our wildest wishes for peace.
Not until I was consumed
by the great wave of love
did I know not to fear
the great wave of love.
Only then did I learn the beauty
of ceding the self to something much greater.
Only then did I learn how love
not only carries us,
it transforms who we are forever.

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