Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Grief Poems 2
My collection of grief poems, or poems to grieve by, is growing. The first one below, more of a blessing, captures stages on the mourner's path that many of us can recognize. We had it read at Noah's one-year memorial, so I changed a couple lines in the next to last verse to omit the hateful image of rope (I try to avoid that word). The Mary Oliver poem"Wild Geese" may or may not be about grief but it speaks powerfully of forgiveness and comfort. How do you respond to these poems? What poems speak to your grief? Please share . . .
FOR GRIEF (adapted from John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us)
When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.
Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.
There are days when you wake up happy,
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.
It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To ease its grip.
Gradually, the wound of loss will heal,
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your returnAll the time.
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.