This is a short poem I wrote some time ago. I actually read the quote from a book and that inspired the poem. The quote made me think about how when I was young and there was tornado warnings, I would go to my room and work on selecting what I would bring with me down to the basement. It seems funny now, the idea that if one was to be in that situation that some sort of ‘toy’ or ‘thing’ would be ‘the thing they need,’ but to a child it’s very logical. The reality is that even when I think about my most treasured possessions today, they are all ‘objects that I don’t really need.’ They are ‘treasured’ because they represent a memory, which I hold whether I have the object or not. I found it today when I was looking for a poem to post, and it sort of jumped out at at me. I hope you. enjoy it.
“If we bring forth what is within, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring bring forth what is in you, it will destroy you.”- Gospel of Thomas
I need to stop a minute and breathe.
What do I have to bring forth within me?
It conjures this image of inventory. When I was young,
the tornado sirens would go off and I would immediately take inventory.
The inventory was of what I would take with me
to bring down the basement. If I had to live,
in the basement with the top of our house blown off, what would sustain me?
That was before I contemplated how I would sustain grief, or hunger, or anxiety?
Now I’ve lived through those emotions. The very muchness of the world exhausts me.
to some degree, I must bring with me knowledge.
Knowledge accumulated through listening, that assures me,
there is no one in the world who does not suffer personally.
I would be inclined to bring forth looks given to me in fleeting moments
and in more significant gestures, for so much is included in those looks.
They have given me something else to write of instead of my own thoughts and feelings.
Every writer learns with time how impossible it is to write about only yourself.
There is little time and there is a lot of time. Just ask
the couple who is watching the first few years of their first child grow
and the soldier or anyone who has ever wished they were ‘home.’
You can go from one moment to the next and never write or paint the same thing.
I would bring the music, from spirituals that were sometimes the only gateway to a promised land,
to Bob Dylan speaking directly to your broken heart on Blood on the Tracks.
The art, I should say, reading Jane Kenyon after spending a month in bed after a loss
or the way “Nighthawks at the Dine”r brings you back to late nights those first months alone in a big city.
Of course, silence would be brought forth. I have learned more from what is not said
then I have from what is spoken.