Poem 5, National Poetry Month: To Hold the Hurt

The Uses of Sorrow
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

-Mary Oliver

For today’s poem, I am leading off of Mary Oliver’s “The Uses of Sorrow.” She, above any other poet this year, has influenced and inspired my work. Of course, nothing can catalyze the mind and soul in poetry-writing as much as experience of life itself: spending time in conversation, feeling the soil, working up a sweat. But reading poetry also makes something come alive inside me, as poems attempt to capture soul-level pain or joy or other passions. Reading poetry like Mary Oliver’s has been a gauge against which I can hold my poems, to see if there may be any life in them.

I was reluctant to post the poem I have for today, as it feels as if the imagery I’ve used is like putting out a piece of my own flesh for anyone to touch. However, since I’m not literally doing such a thing — really only being a vulnerable (and thus courageous?) mouthpiece for what it is to give oneself to someone else — I will pass on this small group of words to you. If it enlivens you, this gift is for you.

::

To Hold the Hurt

I would have made love
with myself, mouth against my
own arm, if out of this dark box
my fingers had not pulled what
touched like pain
but entered into me
once held—as balm
for new life.

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    • Charles Bane, Jr.
    • April 5th, 2014

    Beautiful work with a singular voice.

      • clbeyer
      • April 5th, 2014

      Thank you, Charles.

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