UNCHARTED SORROWS: The Incandescence of Loss
Encountering grief and loss holds great danger. When sorrow overwhelms, the very real trap is getting lost in trauma and never truly emerging. We collapse, stop living in the present, and get stuck replaying the moment just before, during, or after our loss. Whether the death of a dream, person, job, pet, health, or an undesired condition of the earth itself, the hand of life has thrown down the gauntlet. How will we handle it? How shall we then live?
In your own grief, you may be feeling existential aloneness, be wrestling with God, and afraid that you’ll never recover from the fire that burned through your life. Through perusing these poems, however, you may find yourself accomplishing that which seems impossible: adjusting to unwelcome change, recovering life in your own bones, and finding a strange but comforting incandescence: the glimmerings of beauty through the ashes. May it be so.
A Few Poems From Uncharted Sorrows:
So Young for Ashes
Once my life was free and young
I catapulted through tall grass
And life pulsed through me.
All the world waited for my proud conquest.
But too soon, ashes fell:
Flames searing my youthful face.
Slaps and “Never” and “Don’t you dare”…
Hope sorrowed and
I married, thinking that would save me,
Waited for the glory train and children
Who never came.
My eyes dried from straining
For the faint wisp of smoke on the horizon.
In grief I keened for death’s release
But from some long-forgotten memory,
Turned instead toward the patient earth,
The only consolation I could find, constant and true.
Seasons upon seasons
Each mountain trail taught me keen attention.
Wind and water spoke, their kind words a healing balm
And love bent its long arm
To wrap even me in its fierce embrace.
I am broken now, breaking myself open to love,
To how I belong to the earth and the trees and the tender sky
To how green grass sighs under my feet,
And exquisite pain asks only that I tend to it.
Now my end is as my beginning: full of hope and running free.
Sorrow sets its jaw against my neck,
lies against old wounds, which never quite heal.
Memory curses itself over and over, trudging along
in blind wealth, spending itself mercilessly.
All I know is to call for sorrow to comfort me in the night,
for soothing melodies to groan and lengthen my body
stretching it to a wider bed
To cry for yearning and loss of innocence
And through gasps, gather air as a guide
Breathing into a habitable place.
This is all I can do: ride forward on each last intake of air,
Trotting out memory’s muscles in tired compassion.
To Jack Luna
Yes, I see your bleak reservation photographs
Captured well our white, on-going stupidity
our lostness and godly illusions,
our own yearning for home soothed by ruining yours
Guilt lies invisibly wedded to my people,
your vacant houses still standing,
autumn winds tearing at gray and fraying curtains…
Too dismal this rendition, so instead,
We prefer to remember you in beads and glory
Call you noble and sad.
I see this about us through your angry lens
And I lie belly up groaning like a wounded animal in the bitter gall
Sorrowed beyond measure, pleading, “What can I do?”
Until, after I want to stand up, I can’t
Because your pictures still haunt the air
Wagging their finger at my arrogant past.
But I must find freedom, and so must you.
When you hear a low growl you will know
I am seeking a god, neither yours nor mine, to release me.
You were too busy waiting for calls from the surgeons
Yes, I know it happened so fast
Yes, I understand you don’t have time to talk now
But I needed to tell you I’ve been praying for you all day
That I’m keeping your picture by a lit candle
That I don’t even know what to do but offer myself to God.
Why do we pay such a price to be born?
The searing ache spreading in your bones
Your anxious child, your husband with his own illness
who could pass even before you do…
What choice but to breathe into the gathering storm?
This awful mystery sweeps beyond me, clouds I can never reach
Fast in their elusive power
Traveling to and from places you or I may never go…
I wanted to tell you all this
Because I am helpless,
Like a young moose hidden in the willows while a wolf sniffs the wind
Like a child waiting for a ride home that never comes.
I am helpless to make you well
Cannot believe you could die.
Every moment I stop in the middle of some task,
Forgetting what it was…
Instead, my gaze drifts off to nothing but the thought of you.
Thank you for previewing a sampling of the poems you will find in Uncharted Sorrows: The Incandescence of Loss. You may order this book and my other books through your local bookstore, www.amazon.com, or directly from the publisher at www.balboapress.com. Check out my websites: www.robynbridges.com or www.booksbyrobynbridges.com for information on all of my books and possible blog activity. I welcome your responses.
Uncharted Sorrows: The Incandescence of Loss, offers poems traversing both personal and collective heartache and loss. When we grieve, the territory is full of angst. Thwarted desire is a cruel taskmaster; limitation, loss, and death ultimately have their way. Though we rail at the injustice of dashed dreams, we heal by allowing ourselves to surrender to the alchemical mercy of a process beyond our grasp. As we do so, we become kinder and more compassionate toward ourselves and others. We grow more spiritually astute, understanding, and wise.
These poems seek to accompany you through your own dark times. Though your sorrows are yours alone, others share the broader field of grieving with you. May you find comfort in this, while discovering a kind of holiness in the unexpected incandescence of your own grief.
About the Author
Robyn Nygumburo Bridges is the author of three “Medicine” books: Moose Medicine: Healing Wisdom from the Natural World, Two-Legged Medicine: How to be Your Own Brilliant Therapist, and Turtle Medicine: The Art of Swimming Sideways. Now, her third book of poetry, Uncharted Sorrows: The Incandescence of Loss, follows This Way to the Kiva: Poems for the Journey Home, and The Good Earth: Canyons of Gratitude. Explore www.robynbridges.com and order through Amazon, or your local bookstore.