Surrogate words

Confession: Sometimes I lean on the words of others when I can package none for myself. Today I share two poems that give me parameters and hope. You do not need to read them if you are not interested. But they help me.

The first is Snowdrops, by Louise Gluck. Snowdrops–as in the flower.

Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.

I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring–

afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world.

The second is an excerpt from The Waste Land, by T. S. Eliot, whose work I usually do not understand.

Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water we should stop and drink
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
If there were only water amongst the rock
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit
There is not even silence in the mountains
But dry sterile thunder without rain
There is not even solitude in the mountains
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
From doors of mud-cracked houses

If there were water
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
And water
A spring
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?

Though T. S. Eliot did not mean Jesus, I do. He is here, though never as neatly packaged and tangible as we wish. He is here, and I am grateful.

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Mama Zook
11 years ago

and there are times when he carries us, for our strength is gone! Praying for you with love!

Carla Zehr
11 years ago

The poems are powerful. The first one is especially so for me. I remember, and therefore I have hope. The One who brought joy out of death and darkness before can do it again. Thanks for vulnerably sharing a piece of your journey <3

Janelle Glick
11 years ago

“afraid, yes, but among you again…” that is hauntingly hopeful. I, too, am praying and aching.

LaDonna Nice
11 years ago


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