Presence by Melissa Shaw-Smith

The year has rocked this world to its roots.
What if for one day each being put down
their burdens, their words of hate, their inhumanity
and breathed in the presence?
Stopped fighting for history, for fears, hopes, dreams
and stood facing the morning sun
letting the warmth of the moment
and the next, the next, accumulate like dust at their feet
Listened instead of spoke, acknowledged truth,
embraced silence.

What if for one day each being acknowledged the fear
and let it go? Suspended beliefs
opened their arms, drew strength
through earth, grass, rock, sand
Found the sparrow singing from a lone bush
the small heart-shaped cloud
Felt the currents of air wash over them, mingle
with the breath, and let the seams unravel
borders blend, walls dissolve
and be as


This poem was written in December of 2016, a different year that rocked this world to its roots, and yet it seems appropriate again at the end of 2020. The poet offers the ‘what-ifs’ that I’m sure we all have contemplated especially as we reflect on what is going on now in this world. What if each being put down / their burdens, their words of hate, their inhumanity / and breathed in the presence? If we stood facing the morning sun, listened, acknowledged truth, / embraced silence – to listen more than to speak, to actually hear the silence.

And what if each being acknowledged the fear / and let it go? Do I even know how to do that? If we suspended beliefs that keep us locked into our narrow viewpoint. If we drew strength from the earth, the singing sparrow, the small heart-shaped cloud. What if we felt the air around us mingling with our breath so that the seams and borders and walls disappeared until we became one.

Though it might seem an unrealistic, idyllic imagining, I believe she is saying it is all premised on being in the moment, being present to the presence of all that is around us, our unity, letting the warmth of the moment / and the next, the next, accumulate like dust. As John Lennon said, Imagine.

16 thoughts on “Presence by Melissa Shaw-Smith

  1. Hi, I think there is a typo at the end of this poem — perhaps it is “be as one”?

    Otherwise it doesn’t make sense to me. Thank you for these poems. Kathryn


  2. Once again Janice your sharing and reflections touch me in the heart and inspire me to reflect and pay attention. Thank you so much for this service you are doing for our minds and hearts.


  3. Jan,
    I ditto Melodie’s message. Thank you for enriching my life with your poems and your reflections. David and I look forward to your Heart Poems each Wednesday morning. Wishing you every good thing as we move into this new year. I love the imagery of John Lennon’s Imagine – it fits perfectly.
    Much, much love, Lisa


  4. Thank you dear Lisa, it delights me to think of you and David reading these poems together – may we have many more Wednesdays in 2021 πŸ™‚ And yes, Imagine! what a world it would be. xoxoxo Jan


  5. Poem has interesting images but I think the religious overtones (Mormon) spoil it for me.
    Also interested what disturbed her so much in 2016? Trump’s election?
    But a thoughtful relevant choice by you, Janice.


      • It works perfectly in 2020 for the dreadful catastrophe US currently facing with Covid 19. The death tolls & hospitalisation rates are horrific. So sad for the loss of so many people. So sad for their families & friends. So sad too,for people in UK too 981 /930 the latest 2 days death rate there. I will not be going home to UK for some time. So lucky to be living in South Australia right now. Thank you, Janice for your thoughtfulness & kindness


  6. I haven’t had a chance to read this poem until today. It’s beautiful and feels so appropriate for me in this moment. As I was reading it a part of me was remembering being in that “moment” and how peaceful and joyful it is to just “be in that moment”. As you can see, the “being in the moment” stood out loud and clear. And I needed the reminder. Thanks Jan for your gift of connecting and sharing. xoxo


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