Poetry, I’m never quite sure what makes a good poem or even a mediocre poem. Poems, unlike prose, seem to reach into the heart in unexpected ways. As I read a piece of poetry I find myself transported into a realm where the landscape undulates across the valleys of my soul. One such poem, written by Mary Oliver, in its very simplicity reaches deep within and awakens long dormant dreams.
The Uses of Sorrow

Someone I loved once gave me

a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand

that this, too, was a gift.


Every time I read this poem I see something different in what it is saying. The box full of darkness can be at once malevolent and yet bright and beautiful all in the same shape. It’s a box the defies being a box by the very contents it holds and if we look long enough into that darkness the heart begins to understand. The gifts I have been given have not all been full of light but have sometimes led me into those dark places. This is my souls longing to understand who I am and where I fit in God’s greater plan, not so much as another piece in a grand, complicated puzzle, but as a human being.

Last night, in a dream these words flashed across the darkened screen of my mind. Is it poetry, I don’t think so, they are merely words strung together evoking a deep desire.
In the early grey light

the birds sing in chorus.
A woodpecker drums out its call

the world awakens from its slumber.
The orange glow of the clouds

reaching out like fingers in prayer.
The silent footfalls as I walk

sabbath retreat in the still air.

I’m guessing that with the end of Lent now in view as well as the typical fits and starts of spring in March, there comes that yearning within that finds its expression in my writing. The poetry, well, I might leave that to the experts although once in a while something may find its way onto this blog. Maybe not my own creation but at least a reflection on a piece I’ve read and then see where that will take me.

Soon, I will once again be in a writing class testing myself in the world of creative nonfiction. Who knows what will come of that but like everything else it will be a journey of discovery where I will continue to learn a little more about myself. After all, that is the reason why, even as I enter into my middle sixties, I have begun to write more, not only is it fun but it’s also therapy for one confused mind. A box full of darkness that is truly a gift.


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