Monday, March 19, 2012

The Thing Is

Edited to add:  Lindsey pointed out that I missed the final line when I retyped the poem.  I wonder if that speaks to my state of mind today?  I'll take you, life, but that's about as far as we're going to get today.  The poem has now been corrected and posted in its entirety!

A friend shared this poem with me last week and lines of it have been flickering through my mind ever since.  It's an entry that I will be adding to my grief notebook.  This poem was read at a memorial for my friend's daughter, and it's a beautiful tribute to what has been lost and what has been left behind.  I think it's all about making a life you can love, even if it's not the gorgeous life you once thought was yours.

The Thing Is

The thing is
to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat fills with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
When grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you.
I will love you, again.

~Ellen Bass


  1. that poem gave me chills. especially the last line. so powerful. it's hard because i, especially right after Julius passed away, wished away my pain and heartache. but then i came to realize that it was tied to him, and i could never in a million yrs wish him away. so i had to take them both. it's just not the way i wanted it. and i so desperately wish he was here. like i desperately wish Eliza was here with you. ((hugs))

  2. AMAZING. Thank you for sharing that -- I love it. : ) Just sorry that your friend, too, has known grief in her life.

  3. Wow. I love this. I will probably be adding this to my grief book as well and sharing it on FB with other loss moms. Just so powerful.

  4. The last line of the poem is "I will love you, again."
    Love to all you fellow mamas.

  5. It's amazing how 1 poem read by multiple people can be interpreted so differently. I took that whole last part to refer to Julius not life (though it clearly says life). I guess I'm just constantly thinking like that.

    I told D the other day that it feels like my heart is trying to live again. Not just survive like I've been doing since Julius passed away but actually live. Our girl has given me some much needed hope for the future. And I pray that it continues. I pray the same for you and Deuce.

  6. Sitting outside in the sunshine. Hearing the birds chirping and seein all the springtime blooms. This made me cry. Sitting here on my front steps with fragrant flowers and a cool breeze. I think I will hold life like a face into my palms and love it again. This is a stunning poem. Thank you Brooke.

  7. I keep coming back to this poem. I'm also keeping it in my journal. Thank you for sharing.

  8. This poem is amazing - thank you so much for sharing it.

  9. I am sitting here at 4:30am feeding my new son with tears inmy eyes: from the poem, for my daughter. The poem is beautiful. And I am loving lifecagain. Even with the pain.

    Thank you for sharing, Brookester.