processing by way of poetry

Image credit: Jason // Kayaking with Isaiah on Lake Washington last Saturday

I’ve been processing something big recently and my usual forms of writing have not sufficed to help me make meaning of what I’m experiencing.  Instead I have been drawn to poetry to express my feelings.   This surprises me because I’ve never considered myself a poet.  I have written, I believe, a grand total of eight poems in my life.  Nine, tops.  But in the past two weeks, I’ve written three.  Poetry, it seems, is the only voice I have at the moment.

Today, May 31, 2017, is World MS Day.  And on May 18th, 13 days ago, I learned that I have multiple sclerosis.

The Day Before

And so it comes to this.
Has it been but a twenty year reprieve
Twenty years after that first signpost,
the harbinger that went into hiding
Will it explain all that has been unwell,
the chronic pain, the spinning,
the sensation that my leg is wet when really it is dry
Twenty years of waiting for the other shoe to drop

Will it?
Drop now
that I have lived twenty years

And I have lived
I have known and been known
by my beloved, my lover, my friend of all friends
I have brought newness to the earth
Twice have I created with God new life
Grown in the mysterious place inside of me that none but them have known
Yes, I have lived and I have loved
and I have seen the swallows return again
this Spring to the feeder on our balcony

And I shall see the swallows still

Written May 17, 2017

Walk in it

This is the way, he says
You will be going down this path

No, I say
No, I don’t want to go down that path
I want to stay on this one,
the one with my children, my beloved, my dear ones

You can still see them, they’ll be right there,
walking parallel
You’ll be able to hear them,
keep your eye on them
Watch them grow, move, love
Go on now

This is the way, he says
You will be going down this path

When the brambles thicken
and the branches wend their way
tight about me,
when the terror of the night grips my heart,
clenching, tightening, squeezing
What good to see, hear, watch, if I cannot join in their dances
What help the nearness if I am still alone

We vow to walk side by side
on these parallel paths, reaching across
to hold hands as we go
No problem, we say
You’ll be there and I’ll be here and it will be fine, just fine

This is the way, he says
You will be going down this path

We’ll come, too, everyone says
every step of the way,
we’re with you
You will not be alone
this we promise
this we know for certain
yes, yes,
we will be with you
and it will be fine, just fine

This is how we comfort ourselves
We tell ourselves untruths
and vow unvowable vows

this is my path
and none can walk in it
but me

Written May 24, 2017

There are moments I forget

There are moments
I forget
A pause, a respite
Light splicing
and I know nothing
but the beauty before me

There is a bird outside my window dressed in amber
and a gap where my boy’s front tooth was
just yesterday
There is a little one having a birthday
whose very entrance into the world I witnessed four years ago
We sing and he blows out his candles
and we lick frosting from our fingers
There is the hysterical laughter of my eight-year-old watching his dog dance a jig
the music my beloved plays as we paint the rooms of our old house
and remember together the life we lived within them

Then it recedes and I remember something else and
must re-tell myself what I have recently learned
but can scarcely believe
and I wonder which is most true
The splendor of Mount Rainier bursting out of the clouds this morning
or the t-cells leaving lesions in my brain

Written May 29, 2017