I’ve been thinking lately about the possibility of a book – or maybe a collection of essays – about sadness. How to be sad. The idea has no form or feet yet but I feel it sort of swirling around me and I’m curious about it. I started scribbling various ideas, questions, conjectures earlier in the week and this morning I remembered a poem about sadness I wrote a couple years ago.
Elizabeth Gilbert says that ideas are life-forms all their own. That they are driven by the singular impulse to be made manifest. So I revised the poem this afternoon and wanted to share it here. As a sort of placeholder or cairn. An acknowledgment of the idea that has bubbled to the surface in my mind. I don’t know what will come of it; if I will be the one to bring the idea into the world or if it will move on to someone else. But either way I’m glad it came to visit me. And I’m looking forward to peering at it from every angle; to seeing if I might like to fan the infinitesimal embers into something bigger and brighter.
who will sit with the sad
who will be the benevolent witness
for the bedraggled and bereaved
the broken hearted
who knows how to sit without speaking,
move quietly about a kitchen,
how to nourish,
and put the kettle on for tea
not you. you say too much.
not you. you pray too much.
lift your hand
if you know how to climb into a bed
and comb through gnarled knotted hair
lift your hand if you know how to cut fresh flowers
play soft music
or loud, depending
not you. you’re too keen for conversion
not you. you’re too eager for perspective’s return
rearranging sorrow back ‘round to being glad
glad for the good times
glad for the clarity
glad for closed doors and open windows
glad for good doctors
and good decisions
and good food at the hospital
is there anyone
anyone who knows how to just sit
how to sit awhile
how to sit not speak not pray not find a way
to make it better
to hold this
hurt in easy open hands
and just look at it awhile with me.