Contribute to Our Community Poem!

This spring, I was browsing Facebook when I read a community poem NPR had commissioned.

 

It is powerful (I've included it below).

 

I shared it with David Henderson, knowing how much he enjoys poetry, and he said, "Why don't we do something similar?"

 

Covenant Church poetry challenge:

Submit a poem, or a poem fragment, describing what you have learned about God during this season. Email your composition to connect@covenantepc.org with Community Poem in the subject line.


The challenge will end soon! Deadline is Tuesday, June 30.


Here's the background and community poem NPR shared:

In April, NPR issued a poetry challenge: submit lines describing how you've been affected by the global coronavirus pandemic. NPR's poet-in-residence Kwame Alexander pointed to Nancy Cross Dunham’s poem, “What I’m Learning About Grief,” and asked that submissions begin with those same words.The responses were deeply emotional and vividly captured some of the ways people are coping with uncertainty and crisis. As he does with other crowdsourced poems for Morning Edition, Alexander compiled lines from some of the submissions, in this case 33 different writers, and created a community poem.

If The Trees Can Keep Dancing, So Can I

 

What I'm learning about grief

is that it sits in the space between laughs

comes in the dark

steals the warmth from the bed covers

threads sleep with thin tendrils

is a hauntingly familiar song, yet I can't remember the words...

 

What I'm learning about grief is

that it rolls like a heavy mist

settles into the crevices

lingers on the skin.

Visits, then visits again

Lurking under my chair.

And, when I'm not watching

Reaches out her tiny claws

And bats my ankles —

 

Grief sneaks up on you.

You find yourself on your couch

with a well of rage living in the pit of your stomach

and nowhere for it to go.

And, It chokes you.

 

What I'm learning about grief,

is that it can come like a whisper

or storm through loud as thunder

it leaves a hollow,

to be filled with a new planting.

 

And, when you wake for another day

that feels oddly the same as the last,

It crawls right back into your lap.

an ocean of tears

So, you vary the crawl with the butterfly, the backstroke with breaststroke.

At some point, drowning is no longer an option.

 

What I'm learning about grief

Is that it is a language.

Suffering is its own speech

it will not go away just because you won't look it in the eye

 

He rides shotgun when you go by old familiar places

Eventually, you will get closer and he will say

"See, it's not so bad. I got your back."

 

This pandemic, this tragedy, this fulcrum of life

is a shovel unearthing secrets we wish would stay buried

I learn that I am ashamed I love solitude.

 

Hard times call for soft people.

There is softness in stillness,

in staying home, in distractions deleted,

in a togetherness that stretches great distances.

 

What I'm learning about grief

is not found in mint leaves,

floating in a glass of tears boiled thrice over.

It is an acquired taste which we never crave

 

It likes nachos

Staying up late

Watching Scandinavian murder shows

Sleeping in

And eating cake for breakfast.

 

it drips, like water,

It gets in everywhere

through the small unseen fissures in the ceiling.

You can ignore it like dust.

Just keep yourself too busy with laundry and living.

 

Grief shows up unannounced

Like when your husband tells you last October

That he's never loved you

And wants permission to leave

 

So you burrow the ache into carefully guarded well

And wonder if that means the memories have to go there too

 

What I'm learning about grief

is that it can turn you into someone you don't want to be,

can help you become someone you never thought you could be

is that it transcends color, race, Religion, gender.

 

is that it's an old lover that won't leave.

trying to hold your hand again –

that it aches in the arches of feet

that its mother is loss,

its father, change

Make room for it.

 

Is that tiny losses add up

The missed first party my son was to attend

The school days he yearns for with his friends

I tell him it will be over soon

 

What I'm learning about grief

I learned a long time ago.

Knead grief, as you would bread.

Weave grief, as you would thread.

 

there is no vaccine against it —

we can't develop antibodies against it,

it is something I have and something you have —

but in these times it is something we have

 

It is anger and denial

It is chaotic laughter from splintered memories I

t is jagged cries and single tears

It is numb and indifferent

It is the pinprick of light, promising

A slow semblance of normality returned

 

What I'm learning about grief

Is to acknowledge its presence

Its many forms and guises

Then, to use it, while reaching out

Connected To everyone who is braving this same storm

 

What I'm learning about grief

is that it is still learning about me

Learning that I am strong and resilient

If the trees can keep dancing,

So can I.