I try to be positive and hopeful in my writing for the most part but that doesn’t mean I am unaware of the massive files of sorrow in our world. That is one of the reasons we need poets so much. They seem able to breathe out hope right in the middle of horror. A poem can be like a band-aid on a gaping wound. In his book, Poet’s Choice, Edward Hirsch claims that he carries poetry like a flashlight. Even in sad poems, he says, where suffering is one of the central elements, the majesty of poetry is that it works against the suffering it describes and restores us to what is deepest in ourselves. (Edward Hirsch) I totally understand what he is saying and I relate to the poem below:
And in this frigid hour, when the earth
Smells of human dust and is so sad,
I want to knock on every door
And beg forgiveness of I don’t know whom,
And bake bits of fresh bread for him (or her)
Here, in the oven of my heart…!
–Cesar Vallejo,, “Our Bread”
Me too! Those words are exactly my sentiments. I want to forgive and be forgiven for any small part that I may be playing in the sorrows of the world. In the oven of my heart, I too, would like to bake fresh bread and offer it to you and to the world. I believe that in the midst of all the chaos, a new creation is in our reach and every day we are invited in some small way to be a part of the creating.
In one of her poems, Anna Akhmatova asks, Why then do we not despair? The premise of this poem is that with so much that is torn, tattered, and broken, with so much violence and seeming hate there are other things to behold and remember: the smell of cherry blossoms wafting across meadows, the blue birds return to nest building and the melody of songbirds, the return of the seasons, the stunning colors of leftover sun and so much more. Although remembering these things does not negate the pain and brokenness, it is like a healing balm of hope to keep us from despair. Perhaps you can break bread with someone this week, diminishing some of their anguish.