I write this poem
out of darkness
who are also in darkness
because our lives demand it.
This poem is a hand on your shoulder
a bone touch to go with you
through the hard birth of vision.
In other words, love
shapes this poem
is the fist that holds the chisel,
muscle that drags marble
and burns with the weight
of believing a face
lives in the stone
a breathing word in the body.
I tell you
though the darkness
has been ours
words will give us
give our eyes, opened in promise
a growing light.
Sometimes when it is dark, it seems to grow only darker and it is too easy to lose hope for the light. But that is when we most need the light that poetry can bring. Sadly, there will likely be other New Zealands, other Ethiopias. And there will be light.
As the poet says, she writes from darkness because our lives demand it. This is a simple, direct acknowledgement that life is difficult. She offers this poem as a hand on your shoulder / a bone touch to go with you / through the hard birth of vision. I believe it is that touch, in whatever form, that allows us to keep living, to believe there is more, to find the vision that sustains us.
She tells us love / shapes this poem. And this is what is needed, is it not? Not a soft and fluffy love (though that has its place), but the love that requires fist and chisel, muscle and marble, burning and weight, of believing a face / lives in the stone / a breathing word in the body.
In these few words, she reminds us words will give us /give our eyes, opened in promise / a growing light. There are words, actions, beliefs that bring light to this world – and here it is in this small poem.
I would also like to acknowledge the deaths in the past couple of weeks of two beloved poets who left exquisite marks on the paths for us to follow and who both shared a love of the wild. First, Patrick Lane, B.C. poet and teacher and Officer of the Order of Canada. “The spirit leaves us slowly, forever. / It is the waiting I try to understand, the quietness of that.”
And W.S.Merwin, respected and prolific American poet whose words “Every year without knowing it I have passed the day / When the last fires will wave to me” have haunted me since I first read them. I thank both of these fine men for their contribution to the light of the world.