The visitors all come bearing selfishness,
but only Sorrow wears it royal
in the open like a robe.
He hunkers under the heavy cloak
saying it keeps out the cold,
and makes apologies—apologies for all the mud
it drags across my well-swept floors
and the jabbing pins within
that hold him together.
Oh, but he must, he must wear it,
and all is borne.
I set my hands out in a bowl, and we both bow.
The cloak is shed, the pins replaced
with thread, the floors are cleaned,
and the visitor sent on his way.
“Come again when you must.”
Rage is easier to greet,
but rarely receives entrance,
drunk as he comes
tilting into precious, porcelain peaces.
The door is bolted against him, so he hammers
ceaselessly throughout the day and night.
And since I have not learned his name,
I cannot sober him with reason
or soothe him with song.
“Water, water,” he cries,
and I give him wine in the shadows.
His furnace needs a river. But no,
that could rip the whole structure from its roots.
So I let him spew his flames on the threshold,
and those who mind the house wonder
at the flickering in the windows,
the bubbling and peeling of the walls,
and I tell them all is well, all is well,
as smoke billows beneath the door.
I sit frog-like and boiling, beside
the only one who made my halls his home.
Looming mass of muscle—I have fed him well.
I ask if I should let his brother in.
“No,” he whispers, as he ever does.
All visitors abide against his will.
It is he who cleans the floors,
and paints the walls, and pours the wine.
He who draws Rage in, and he who bars the door.
He who fills the room to bursting,
suffocating any who would stay.
But now wood splinters, heat spills through the cracks,
and he shambles toward the basement door.
Tomorrow will find him unburnt,
fingers coiled like silk-tongued snakes
around my ankles in the ashes.
– s. Clark
I know we’re a couple days late, but this has to be the most beautiful, moving Mother’s Day poem I’ve ever read. I found it on The Rabbit Room site. Enjoy!
No, nor womanhood
I meant to write of summer,
Goodness, and the love of God.
But then I saw you step out on the stage,
The lights all trained upon your face
Stumbling feet and legs too long
A glance into the darkness,
Seeking guidance from a song.
It wasn’t your uncertainty that made me weep
I sat in shadow, gazing up,
And what I saw was glory,
Thinly veiled in tulle and satin
Saw a shy conviction, such delight
In roses? Sequins? No.
What you delighted in was you
That here, upon this stage,
We’d catch a glimpse of what you knew
You small, immortal queen
I wept still more for your uncomprehending
Innocence. That you should not yet know
What kind of world you’ve entered in
You cannot know your danger. Oh!
The light around you, thin as spider’s web,
So fine I hardly dared to breathe,
Some hand will swat the veil aside
And barge right in
Or slowly snip the mooring threads
Until a breath of wind
Blows it away.
I cannot bear to see.
You spin on tiny feet, your arms uplifted,
Toss a grin into the crowd,
Take your skirts in hand and flee.
The lights go out.
I am inclined to stand and follow,
For who better knows the path ahead?
I’ve stared down countless dragons
Before curling in my bed to cry
Have felt the violence, the gouge of hungry eyes
I’ve watched in silence, waiting for my turn to speak
While years dragged by.
It never came.
And I have gathered up the fragments
Of my beauty,
Reapplied the tattered bits with paste, in haste
I’ve laid them down, washed myself clean
I’ve beaten giants
Quiet as a lamb, and no one noticed.
Just as quiet I can slip in between you and hell
And stand my ground
I know what’s waiting for you, girl
Yet it could be that while I watch you dance
You’re looking down at me,
Wondering what it means to be
Maybe you’d like to see my battle scars,
Know how it feels to come through fire and flood
For this is womanhood, this strength,
This towering refusal
To lie down and die
Sit down and hush
We stand and fight
We are the champions of the light
Inside your eyes.
That breathless glimmer
Only lasts an hour;
What rises from the embers
Is a fierce and lovely power.
My great desire
Is that you’d know you are encircled,
Sheltered, lifted up by love.
You, too, will triumph,
Face of God.
You, too, will rise above.
So smile your biggest smile.
I see your glory, too.
Out here, beyond the footlights
In the dark
A warrior fights for you.
A poem in honor of Good Friday. 33 words, one for each year of Jesus’ life.