Mark Nepo joined the hosts, James Crews and Danusha Laméris on this fifth week of the Poetry as Resilience Retreat I have been participating in. Each Friday, for two hours, a poet guest shares how poetry has been a life giving force for them and ways for us to use poetry as a practice for sustenance in our daily lives. The retreat has been such balm for me at the end of each week, coming together with others who savor the lighthouse that poetry can offer us.
I want to share the essence of today’s words from Mark Nepo.
He teaches us,
Falling down and getting back up has a rhythm. There is an art to falling. We have to learn to to keep getting back up.
Our daily, weekly and yearly rhythms of emotional, physical, mental and spiritual selves have a rhythm as well. Repeatedly, we fall, not fail, but more of a letting go – a shedding – an acceptance that something no longer serves us.
This can completely undo us.
And, we need practices for getting back up.
For me, in the last few years, poetry has been this practice. The deep study of a poet each month has been a guide with their words through my days. The memorization of one poem, every now and then, gives me an ownership of those lines – an embodiment in which I can call to those lines at a given moment of need. They are waiting, at the ready. Poetry Dives with Kim Rosen have awakened me to the power of reading poetry out loud, with music, as a lubrication for those words to do it’s work.
Poetry has been my way of getting back up. Whether reading, writing and listening to poetry, it’s been my buoy and my anchor.
Today, I share a poem gifted by Mark Nepo, one that has found it’s way to my pages today:
The Rhythm of Each
by Mark Nepo
I think each comfort - each holding
in the night, each opening of a wound,
each closing of a wound, each pulling
of a splinter or razored word, each
fever sponged, each dear thinking given
to someone in greater need - each
passes on the kindness we have known.
For the human sea is made of cares
that mount and merge till the way a
nurse rocks a child is the way that child
all grown rocks the wounded, and how
the wounded, allowed to go on, can
rock strangers free of their pain.
Eventually, the rhythm of kindness
is how we suffer and pray by turns,
and if someone were to watch us
from inside the lake of time, they
wouldn't be able to tell if we are
dying or being born.
From The Way Under the Way.
Sounds True. 2016
If you’d like to create your own poetry retreat, you can listen to a poetry talk by Mark Nepo here or listen to James Crew’s in Poetry Writing as Self Care or maybe you’d also like to listen to Naomi Shihab Nye. I am so grateful that these artists share their work with us.
I am participating in the 15th Annual SOL 2022 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.