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Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

I went to a reading last night held at Bates College by Brian Turner, award winning poet and veteran of the Iraq war. (He’ll be at the Lewiston public library tonight for those of you who live in the Lewiston/Auburn area.) After the reading someone asked him a question about healing and his response was one that I plan on mulling over for some time. He suggested that perhaps the appropriate goal of veterans (trauma victim/survivor?) is not to heal from their wounds but rather to learn to integrate them into the rest of their lives. From a narrative therapy perspective, I wonder if he meant that the wounds of war must be woven into the larger story of the veteran’s life, and while certainly a defining chapter in the overall narrative, must not become THE ENTIRE STORY.

I was moved by his poetry, and when I returned home I couldn’t put his book, “Here, Bullet” down. I read it from beginning to end and didn’t sleep until night had given way to the fledgling hours of morning. I was revisited once again by the jagged and shattering stories shared with me by the veterans with whom I’ve worked over the years, the haunting beckoned this time by the horror and heartbreak of war transformed into poetry.

I found a quote in an old journal entry by veteran, Timothy Kudo, who wrote, “ I thought my war was over, but it followed me. It followed all of us. We returned only to find that it was waiting here the entire time and will always be with us. “ And I acknowledged then that in some ways, the war will never end for me either, for any of those of us who have served as inadequate and yet fully present witnesses. I honor in my heart and in my own tortured memory – the boy, the girl, the wounded warrior and the poet that lives on in each and every one of them….

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It has been an incredibly beautiful week here as we begin to make preparations to move the retreat and training division of SagePlace to the lake house in central Maine. During this process we discovered a 5 page goodbye letter written to the house and hidden away in a secret hiding place for twenty-seven years. The lettter was written by a man and his children who had lived here then and while sad to leave, were also grateful for the healing which took place and wrote with tremendous honesty and beauty about their experiences. The letter concluded with a riddle written by a young child (who would now be a middle aged adult) to whomever might discover the letter in the future. If we solved the riddle correctly, it appeared to imply that there was a treasure that lived in the heart of Wayne – the house itself. We tucked the letter safely back in its hiding place and have decided that over the years we will add our own letters to these very dear people who remain unknown (but very much appreciated) to us in the hopes that far off into the future they will all be uncovered again and will touch the hearts of future residents of the house as our hearts were touched.

Following is an untitled poem that speaks to me of all of the holy places available to each and every one of us…

I do not have to go
To Sacred Places
In far-off lands.
The ground I stand on
Is holy.
Here, in this little garden
I tend
My pilgrimage ends.
The wild honeybees
The hummingbird moths
The flickering fireflies at dusk
Are a microcosm
Of the Universe.
Each seed that grows
Each spade of soil
Is full of miracles.
And I toil and sweat
And watch and wonder
And am full of love.
Living in place
In this place.
For truth and beauty
Dwell here.

By poet and activist, Mary de La Valette

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