The Unbearable Lightness of Poems

I love poems for their smallness, their substance, their portability. I love that they pack so much meaning into such a tiny shape. I love how the words are surrounded by white space. When so much in life feels crowded and rushed, looking at a poem is like taking a slow, deep breath. Even if I don’t always understand what a poem is about (which is much of the time, it seems), I’m soothed by the artful gathering of images, and by language that is beautiful to read, speak, and hear.

A long time ago, when my sons were small, I learned to love poetry because I didn’t have time to read anything else. I tacked poems over the kitchen sink and read them over and over, letting them wash over and through me.

I was out for a walk last week and discovered this poem by Jan Richardson on a poetry post in someone’s yard. It is so beautiful that I am blogging after a long absence, just so I can share it with anyone who happens this way.

How the Light Comes

I cannot tell you how the light comes.

What I know

is that it is more ancient than imagining.

That it travels

across an astounding expanse to reach us.

That it loves searching out

what is hidden

what is lost

what is forgotten

or in peril or in pain.

That it has a fondness for the body

for finding its way toward flesh

for tracing the edges of form

for shining forth through the eye,

the hand, the heart.

I cannot tell you how the light comes,

but that it does.

That it will.

That it works its way into the deepest dark that enfolds you,

though it may seem long ages in coming

or arrive in a shape you did not foresee.

And so

may we this day turn ourselves toward it.

May we lift our faces to let it find us.

May we bend our bodies to follow the arc it makes.

May we open and open more and open still

to the blessed light

that comes.

(Jan Richardson)

Jenna ThompsonComment