We take it into our hands like a rope

Marie Howe (1950-) has a way of capturing loss and grief, of describing what it is to live with–and beyond–sorrow, that has always resonated with me. If you enjoy this poem, I recommend not only reading her books (especially What the Living Do), but also listening to this podcast on “The Poetry of Ordinary Time,” in which she’s interviewed by Krista Tippett.

“Sorrow”

So now it has our complete attention, and we are made whole.
We take it into our hands like a rope, grateful and tethered,
freed from waiting for it to happen. It is here, precisely
as we imagined.

If the man has died, if the child’s illness has taken a sudden
turn, if the house has burned in the middle of the night
and in winter, there is at least a kind of stopping that will
pass for peace.

Now when we speak it is with a great seriousness, and when
we touch it is with our own fingers, and when we listen
it is with our big eyes that have looked at a thing
and have not blinked.

There is no longer any reason to distrust us. When it leaves
it will leave like summer, and we will remember it as a break
in something that had seemed as unrelenting as coming rain
and we will be sorry to see it go.

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