Can poetry console a grieving public?

I believe in the past month we have seen that poetry can console a grieving public. Poems and favorite words are being shared everywhere, and lyrical poems are being sung almost daily.

In my own small circle, even, I have been spending more time asking questions, offering comfort, and dissecting grief. But also noting the immense gratitude for the strange opportunities this pandemic has provided: spending time with family, slowing down. But we are given daily reminders this is not the case for everybody: students who can’t eat, let alone learn.

This month, I went to my community on facebook: Give me three words that describe your day (for example, the title comes from “sunny” and “relaxing,” both given twice), and I’ll make a poem with them to capture our shared experience. More than a dozen friends, family, and colleagues contributed. This poem is the result.

 

I’M NOT RELAXING WHILE IT’S SUNNY
The pain is

slow, nesting.
Each day starts overcast
by intense sunshine,

spring inspiring
gratitude and grief. Distracted,
by the zoom of a curve—

a cancer frustrating
the lungs overwhelmed
by pomegranate seeds

wedding
to balls of snow. It does not
survive the hot, they say.

Each day wakening
to a curious family—
I am the new housekeeper.

Productive parenting
looks like a hectic jackrabbit:
Shredding travel plans to Lany.

Rewarding
the dog with lemon bars. Laundry.
Create my own masala with spices we have on hand.

Grounding
the kids in loving, laughter.
The tiny moments

are most enlightening:
I’m thankful for a paperclip,
accomplishing what I cannot—

holding
it all together. Shamed,
I drink whiskey from the moonshine.

By evening,
I am tired already
from the early worry of tomorrow.

Thanks for being here!

This poem is part of my “collective poetry”—every month I write a “collective poem” using three words from every new contact. You can join by sharing your three words (any three words—about your day, your life, current mood, whatever comes to mind, etc.) via my Contact page. I’ll cobble them together and write a poem to try to capture our shared experience. Then I’ll email you when the poem is ready!

13 thoughts on “Can poetry console a grieving public?”

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