Saturday, November 15, 2014

On Pain and Healing

Five weeks ago, I slipped and fell down my side porch steps, plummeting down on my spine, and badly injuring myself. I sustained several compression fractures in my thoracic spine, as well as intense pain and bruising around my sacrum. The experience has been humbling and eye-opening, and quite an existential journey. I felt inspired to write a poem about it in an attempt to express my feelings about this twisted path of pain and healing. Here is what manifested:

Let the pain be your guide, they said.
So I opened my body and heart
to the curious sensations
of bones fractured, bruised and aching,
muscles clenching for dear life
to hold me upright--
keep me from succumbing once again
to the awful pull of gravity.

Some days the pain softened,
and I could move freely, make love,
even dance to the sweet sounds of gypsy jazz.
Other days my spine screamed in agony and
I simply could not attend to the basic necessities.
Found myself huddled
on the floor, in the pose of the child,
my nervous system frayed,
gasping for some reprieve.

But I discovered the pain was not so solid,
that my bones had become a barometer
of the cold front passing through,
the rains enveloping the earth,
of cruel words and tender acts of love,
all registering deeply within my marrow.

Walking the streets,
grateful for strong legs and supple flesh,
I drank in the vastness of the sky,
quivered with the cool caress of the wind
like never before.

Precious, precious gift, to be alive,
embodied within skeleton and tissue
that can sustain blunt trauma,
and yet heal, again to feel
the warm glow of sun on skin.


Update - 9/2/15: I am pleased to share that this poem has been published in the new compilation "Capturing Shadows: Poetic Encounters Along the Path of Grief and Loss" edited by Louis Hoffman and Michael Moats through University Professors Press. "Capturing Shadows" is now available on Amazon:

About the book: "Long before contemporary approaches to helping people face death, loss, and other life transitions, poetry was used by many cultures to assist the grieving process. Today, it remains an important healing art. Capturing Shadows is an original collection of poems about actively engaging one's grieving and loss with a purpose. The poems were written by therapists, counselors, educators, and others who understand and have experienced the struggle of leaning into one's pain...Whether wanting assistance with one's own grief and loss, a deeper understanding of the grief and loss, or a resource to help others in their journey, Capturing Shadows is a wonderful resource for all touched by death, loss, and other difficult life transitions."

No comments: