“For Grief” by John O’Donohue

When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.

Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And, when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.

 

“For Grief” by John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings (Doubleday, 2008).

“What Do Women Want?” by Kim Addonizio

I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what’s underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I’m the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

“What Do Women Want?” by Kim Addonizio from Tell Me (BOA Editions Ltd.)

originally posted: 6/14/14


“If Love is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags) by Maria McKee

“Of Love” by Mary Oliver

I have been in love more times than one,
thank the Lord. Sometimes it was lasting
whether active or not. Sometimes
it was all but ephemeral, maybe only
an afternoon, but not less real for that.
They stay in my mind, these beautiful people,
or anyway beautiful people to me, of which
there are so many. You, and you, and you,
whom I had the fortune to meet, or maybe
missed. Love, love, love, it was the
core of my life, from which, of course, comes
the word for the heart. And, oh, have I mentioned
that some of them were men and some were women
and some—now carry my revelation with you—
were trees. Or places. Or music flying above
the names of their makers. Or clouds, or the sun
which was the first, and the best, the most
loyal for certain, who looked so faithfully into
my eyes, every morning. So I imagine
such love of the world—its fervency, its shining, its
innocence and hunger to give of itself—I imagine
this is how it began.

-Mary Oliver, from Red Bird (Beacon Press, 2008).


“thank u next” by Ariana Grande

“The Phoenix Again” by May Sarton (on “Simply Beginning Again” by Christy)

On the ashes of this nest
Love wove with deathly fire
The phoenix takes its rest
Forgetting all desire.

After the flame, a pause,
After the pain, rebirth.
Obeying nature’s laws
The phoenix goes to earth.

You cannot call it old
You cannot call it young.
No phoenix can be told,
This is the end of the song.

It struggles now alone
Against death and self-doubt,
But underneath the bone
The wings are pushing out.

And one cold starry night
Whatever your belief
The phoenix will take flight
Over the seas of grief

To sing her thrilling song
To stars and waves and sky
For neither old nor young
The phoenix does not die.

~ May Sarton via Poetry (December 1987)


It struggles now alone
Against death and self-doubt,
But underneath the bone
The wings are pushing out.

 

I’ve had this poem saved for quite some time. This concept of death and rebirth, of flying above grief, of returning to ground–burned and naked and alone, of nature’s laws, of beginning again . . . even when you know what inevitably lies ahead. The cycle and natural order of everything. Nothing is permanent, yet everything is cyclical, everything returns again, just not exactly the same as it was in the past. The warm nest of inertia, yet the tingling tickling of wings prickling and pushing out.

It was never a question of if I would return. I knew I would. But who would I be when I came back? Exactly who I am supposed to be, right? I knew from my past extended break that I needed poetry in my life, but I also knew that I couldn’t force it or feel guilted into it. It would happen when it was supposed to happen.

I got some bad news in April 2018 and it was enough to snuff my candle for a while. I tried to keep the poetry coming, and I did until July, but I had lost the spark. My heart just wasn’t in it. So I chose to refocus my energy. And then as I settled into a new normal of sorts, my old mistress Poetry came calling… I told her I was done with her, and she said . . . . well, you know. So here we go again, always we begin again.

And one cold starry night
Whatever your belief
The phoenix will take flight
Over the seas of grief

Here’s to taking flight.
Here’s to simply beginning again.
With love, Christy


“Fledgling” by Blues Traveler from Save His Soul 

The earth
Is far below you
Once its prisoner now do you fly
Once just a fledgling now
Do you fly

 

“Burning the Old Year” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

Naomi Shihab Nye, “Burning the Old Year” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Portland, Oregon: Far Corner Books, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye


“I begin again with the smallest numbers…” 

Happy New Year everyone. May your crackles be few, and your losses fewer.

We sadly lost an unborn calf today, and yet, just on Christmas Eve, another cow miraculously welcomed happy and healthy twins. Such is the cycle of life . . . and of death. I am slowly learning to accept both.

Thank you for being here with me. Love, Christy

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you

with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

~ “Thanks” by W.S. Merwin