What the Heart Cannot Forget by Joyce Sutphen

Everything remembers something. The rock, its fiery bed,
cooling and fissuring into cracked pieces, the rub
of watery fingers along its edge.

The cloud remembers being elephant, camel, giraffe,
remembers being a veil over the face of the sun,
gathering itself together for the fall.

The turtle remembers the sea, sliding over and under
its belly, remembers legs like wings, escaping down
the sand under the beaks of savage birds.

The tree remembers the story of each ring, the years
of drought, the floods, the way things came
walking slowly towards it long ago.

And the skin remembers its scars, and the bone aches
where it was broken. The feet remember the dance,
and the arms remember lifting up the child.

The heart remembers everything it loved and gave away,
everything it lost and found again, and everyone
it loved, the heart cannot forget.

What the Heart Cannot Forget

Everything remembers something the poet begins, grounding us in this world. There is rock, here since time out of mind, forming and reforming, the rub / of watery fingers along its edge, as it is shaped. There is cloud, with its imaginary shapes of elephant, camel, giraffe, covering the sun, gathering together to release its clouds of rain. There is turtle, one of the oldest creatures, who remembers legs like wings, a prehistoric time before it had to crawl to the ocean’s edge while escaping the beaks of savage birds.

Each being, creature, entity, remembers its origins. There is tree with the story of each ring, with times of not enough water and too much, the way things came / walking slowly towards it long ago, each tree, each ring with its own story. And there is the body with its lifetime of memories, the scars on skin, the ache in bones, the feet which have danced, the arms remember lifting up the child. Most of all, there is the heart which remembers everything it loved and gave away.

Right there, can you pause and remember your own loves, what you’ve lost and found again, and everyone your heart has held. Because finally, she assures us, the heart cannot forget. Our hearts remember it all – rock and cloud and turtle and tree and our bodies which keep us in this world. Everything and everyone remembers something. Though the mind may forget, the heart remembers it all and we are all part of this world.

14 thoughts on “What the Heart Cannot Forget by Joyce Sutphen

  1. Beautiful, so much to re-member. Much love to you Jan- what a gift it is to find the poem and your reflections – to allow my heart to be stirred. Xo

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  2. In all these incredible ways the heart does not forget – and can never be too full of love. Thank you again Jan. Your Wednesday morning posts are such a gift. Another poem to read and reread and love.
    Lisa ❤️

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  3. Dear Jan – Such a rich poem to greet the morning with, and feel the connection, through memory, of rocks and clouds and dear people. “Though the mind may forget, the heart remembers it all and we are all part of this world.” Yes, indeed. Thanks! Love – Mary Lou

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  4. Jan, thank you once again. This selection is very moving . Re’membering what riches are found in my life experience and what mother earth offers us when we treat her with love and respect.

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  5. Beautiful words. I love the way this poem reflects the Indigenous wisdom of all our relations- stone, tree, animal… and that we are all one in this energy of creation.

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