“the slow, unglamorous work of healing”

graffiti of a small man with a net chasing the shadows of enormous birds, which remain free, flying, uncaughtHi over there. This is me waving with some new words. This is a quiet morning, or more like a thick blanket of quiet spread across fat noise, clanging cymbals (I wanted to write symbols, which, also, yes), the marching band of the soul. That’s how it feels this morning.

I have a poem as a prompt or just a reading-to-be-with this morning. I spent last night with a book of poems I’ve loved for many years, and it felt good to go back into those words, into all that they’ve held for me over the last decade plus. This is one of the books that I wrote about for my MA thesis, so I got to push really deep into these lines, wrangling with metaphor and possible meaning, stretching out onto my own pages the emotion and resonance that they brought up for me about desire, about claiming one’s own passion even though… (whatever your even though is: someone else doesn’t like it, your dad tells you to get a real job, your friends make more money than you, your lover wants to know when you’re coming to bed, etc.)

So, this is one of the poems from Alison Luterman’s The Largest Possible Life. Use it as a prompt, if you like. Notice what lines or images stay with you, grab them out, drop them on your page, and go. Write for 10 minutes — follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.

Invisible Work

Because no one could ever praise me enough,
because I don’t meen these poems only
but the unseen
unbelievable effort it takes to live
the life that goes on between them,
I think all the time about invisible work.
About the young mother on Welfare
I interviewed years ago,
who said, “It’s hard.
You bring him to the park,
run rings around yourself keeping him safe,
cut hot dogs into bite-sized pieces for dinner,
and there’s no one
to say what a good job you’re doing,
how you were patient and loving
for the thousandth time even though you had a headache.”
And I, who am used to feeling sorry for myself
because I am lonely,
all the while,
as the Chippewa poem says, I am being carried
by great winds across the sky,
thought of the invisible work that stitches up the world
day and night,
the slow, unglamorous work of healing,
the way worms in the garden
tunnel ceaselessly so the earth can breathe
and bees ransack this world into being,
while owls and poets stalk shadows,
our loneliest labors under the moon.

There are mothers
for everything, and the sea
is a mother too,
whispering and whispering to us
long after we have stopped listening.
I stopped and let myself lean
a moment, against the blue
shoulder of the air. The work
of my heart
is the work of the world’s heart.
There is no other art.

Thank you for the ways you recognize others’ invisible work — and for the ways you honor your own ‘slow, unglamorous work of healing.’ Thank you for your enormous generosity with this world. Thank you (yes) for your words.

One response to ““the slow, unglamorous work of healing”

  1. Thank you for sharing such a personal/universal poem with all.