I wrote this poem in the hope that my downtime over the next few days might be an opportunity for compassion instead of despair.
For Those Who Suffer at Christmas
When I was four, my family lived
in an apartment building in a city.
An interior courtyard,
small square of empty
grass and infinite sky,
surrounded on four sides by
the back sides of buildings,
gave a strange escape.
Our only way in was through
the kitchen window in cherry lyn’s
first floor apartment.
My mother never entered.
She only delivered me.
If the two younger children did not come,
I was alone
in a place where freedom and fear converged.
I alone had to decide which would win,
decide whether to bang on the window
to be let back in
or lie on the grass or snow
and drift up into the vast blue.
Today when I lie alone
under the coarse uneven blanket of infirmity,
sequestered in my room, absent
from the festivities,
I will call for you.
I will call for you who suffer,
for you who have been robbed or beaten—
whether by human hand or a collective culture,
by the economy or by natural forces,
by illness, loss, death,
or even by your own mind—
At the edge of my pain
is a window through which
you might climb and join me,
not in the confinement of suffering,
but in an interior field
of grass and infinite sky
hemmed softly in every distance
by the lace of trees.
Lie on the grass or snow beside me and gaze up.
Let what assails you rise
from your body like soap bubbles.
We will fill the sky,
then watch the glistening orbs catch the light
and vanish into the vast blue.