By the parking lot of the strip mall
where I buy cat food, next to a very busy street,
these perky little green leaves alternated
between fluttering, trembling, and violent
shaking in what began as a gentle breeze
and then (using on the language
of the Beaufort Scale), became
a moderate breeze, and finally a fresh breeze,
and back again, shifting from 7 knots to 21
and in between, and then all over again.
I didn’t think all that then,
when I was meditating.
I was trying not to think at all.
When I thought, I was thinking of
the portfolios at home longing to be graded,
the groceries on the other side of the annoying detour
all longing to be mine, to come home with me,
where we all are now, the food, the work
still yet to be done, the image of that half-dead tree
in the wind still with me, resisting metaphor,
not really responsible for my wondering what killed half of it
and what the part that isn’t dead has to live for.
alive to engineer my own salvation
from an ordeal of my very own making:
just grim persistence, that is all.
Almost no joy. It is my fault
I’m where I am.
It will take time
and focus of which I have precious little.
Not one mite of sediment wants to settle.
The braille of my hives reads “nettles,” which
I’ve tackled just in time this spring, instead
of waiting until they’re taller than my head.
I should cook them up but won’t. There is so much
I am not doing with this gift of time
that was stolen just today from a woman younger
than me with children younger than mine. Also, her
good words reached farther and did more work than mine.
In this specific grief so far, what have I learned?
The God we prayed to didn’t grant our prayers.
Some plants protect themselves–beware. Beware–
female stinging nettles produce more stinging hairs.
I see pain and possibility everywhere.
“O death where is thy sting?” Right fucking here.
Rachel Held Evans, a writer I admired and learned from so much, has died. She was one of my favorite thinkers on Twitter and I appreciated her blog posts and books. I never met her. I never said “I think you’re great,” not even in a tweet. So there’s this sadness, in proportion to how much she occupied my brain and engaged my heart, and there are so many others hurting so much more.
What else can I say except–read her if you haven’t already. And we all need to understand what she said in her last blog post:
“It strikes me today that the liturgy of Ash Wednesday teaches something that nearly everyone can agree on. Whether you are part of a church or not, whether you believe today or your doubt, whether you are a Christian or an atheist or an agnostic or a so-called ‘none’ (whose faith experiences far transcend the limits of that label) you know this truth deep in your bones: ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.’
Death is a part of life.
My prayer for you this season is that you make time to celebrate that reality, and to grieve that reality, and that you will know you are not alone.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
darkness and light and pain and pleasure
(At some point, I will be more in the mood to celebrate her life. Right now, I am grieved and angry, and I feel confident she would support my feeling of my feelings.)
Posted in Authenticity, Bloem or Pog, Folks I Loves, God Stuff, Hot Take Poem, Poetry, Poetry journal, Searching
Tagged grief, poetry, Rachel Held Evans, sonnet, stinging nettles