Here is a poem I recently wrote about finding inner strength to face dark moments in our lives, in a grief writing workshop at UNC hospital. I am still unsure what best to call this poem, so I am going with “Grasping Through Morning Shadows”. If something more moving comes to your mind, let me know.
I hope it helps you find that golden thread running through your life in the darkest moments.
“Grasping Through Morning Shadows”
The days darkness fell over me in sheets
cold, wet, and grimy
like the unexpected summer showers
that caught me when Paul and I went running,
searching, exploring summer nights in my teens
mixed with the filthy dust of smog-filled spring mornings
with air that tasted of cigarette ash and burning plastic
that I gulped down nervously
while sitting beside a busy L. A. street waiting for my bus.
Those mornings when waking was like falling into dreams
I moved like my feet were stuck to sun-melted asphalt streets
And my skin goose pimpled as my body was chilled even to the bones.
Those mornings, when awakening might come with nightmare scream,
when I remembered her lifeless form
remembered as my hand stroked the empty place beside me,
cold to the touch as cold as her hand when I, heart in my chest, rang the paramedics.
Those mornings, when pulling the sheet off my face
was like leaping off the cliff, often I felt frozen by fear,
two things were like the candle
blazing bright as a thousand suns
though only a pinprick of light
in the canvas sheet of my surrounding darkness:
Cold wet noses,
slobbery with canine love that called me to lay the armor away.
For if I curled up and lay down, letting my soul die too, where were they?
Walking them in the winter wood
my eyes would open for but a moment
to the sunlight sliding through the leaves
to the sight of squirrels busy with their errands
to the life splashing wet upon river rock
and I lived.
and her words “I ache every day
yet I must choose my joy.
I must live while I have breath.”
If, when pain stole sight from her eyes,
so I had to steady her each morning
she could grasp the thread of joy
I must hear my breath
listen to its message
I must crawl out of my borrowed tomb
I must leave my prison
while I live each moment I must find my joy
Each breath is a call, a gift, a challenge
to grab my golden thread
and, with the creek,
though my voice cracks in the effort,
find the strength to sing.