I wrote this poem in my journal on Sunday and discovered this morning that a former student died suddenly yesterday. I offer this here in honor of Rob and for all those who are grieving for a multitude of losses:
Let it Be Winter Still
Let it be winter a while longer,
Let darkness be my closest companion
cradling me in her inky velvet shawl.
Let the owl cry softly from his place
among the long aching branches,
under the bone-white face of the moon.
Let my heart break for the dead in Haiti,
buried under collapsed stone and wood
and the seeping river of death flowing underground.
Let me shed tears for widows and widowers
in Iraq and Afghanistan,
who must walk through each long day without the
warm calloused hand of their one true love.
Let me weep for the man dying less than a mile away,
alone as he reaches for that bright doorway.
Let me feel the gnawing sorrow of the woman
pressing her hungry children close against her body.
Let the winter stay a while longer.
Let her invitation to grief
carry me across the haunting threshold
to the places of my own great losses,
until I know this black frozen landscape as my own,
until the mournful songs of my ancestors vibrate in my blood,
wounded in wars, the grand kind, or the smaller battles of daily life.
Let the winter linger until I see each naked tree
as a talisman of my sorrow
and I long to be stripped down to my own essence,
reaching my arms up in supplication under a wide twilight sky.
Let it be winter until the moment the Hour of Spring
breaks through in laboring, gasping, heaving pains.
Until tiny miracles burst forth in an array of buds and blossoms
each one carrying a name: Love. Kindness. Compassion. Hope.
Each name earned only from the long barren journey of heartbreak.
Let it be winter still.
© Christine Valters Paintner at Abbey of the Arts:
Transformative Living through Contemplative & Expressive Arts
** Stop by yesterday’s post to find out more about 50% for Haiti –
with gratitude to several new students who already registered today **
What a wonderful poem, Christine. Thank you so much for sharing it.
I am really moved by your responses here. Funny how being in winter can also feel so warm when shared with a community.
Dear Christine, I was moved to tears by your beautiful offering. To linger in winter awhile longer. To sense, savor, touch All of it. Thank you thank you thank you.
Maraming salamat Christine. (Thank you very much, in Pilipino). Your poem is so poignantly beautiful. Just yesterday I wrote in my journal a realization that the capacity of the human heart to endure the most intense suffering is in itself the sign of its divine origin. If we delve into the depths of our sufferings we eventually find ourselves on the other side, which is love. Indeed, suffering and love are one, and so deeply liberating. Again, many thanks for your soul nourishing website.
(Paranaque City, Philippines).
Hi dear Christine–
I put this on FB with my own note that about this time each winter I am so torn…ready on some level for spring, and yet not nearly ready to let go of winter. Not enough deep gestation…
Thank you for this deep frozen water, each drop bearing kinetic life.
I just read the other comments.
Martha Louise, it will be winter for her for a very, very long time.
Please invite her to my Desert Year blog if you think it would be of any meaning to her.
We should see more of your poems! This one has so much. I went back to look for “favorite lines” to comment on, but there were too many. The last paragraph with the transition to spring is marvelous, but all through the poem, the starkness of winter is felt. And, the starkness of the lives of tragedy that are so easy to try to brush aside. Bravo!
Nancy, Richard, Martha Louise, Lisa, and Macrina, blessings to each of you, I am blessed by your words.