Poem of the Week: The Thing Is
We've delved into 2022, taking on these first two weeks with, I think, a shared hope for a better year for everyone, for the world. The last two years have been harrowing and brought many of us down from day to day. There are sources of hope out there, though, and perhaps we are librarians and library users because we know words are often one of the biggest springs of that hope. On that note, I'd like to share poet Ellen Bass's words in the form of "The Thing Is," a poem that acknowledges the difficulty of finding joy and love in a world that often seems intent on dragging us down. But Bass rejects utter despair. The poem can be found in the 2017 anthology Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, one that I've chosen to revel over throughout the course of the coming year.
Ellen Bass has published numerous books of her own poetry, in addition to being frequently published in The New Yorker, as well as other journals and anthologies. Her work has been honored by a diverse array of prizes from the Pushcart Prize to the Lambda Literary Award.
Read on with my wish that your spirit by buoyed by this poem, that it become something to return to throughout 2022.
The Thing Is
to love life, to love it even when you have no stomach for it and everything you’ve held dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands, your throat filled with the silt of it. When grief sits with you, its tropical heat thickening the air, heavy as water more fit for gills than lungs; when grief weights you down like your own flesh only more of it, an obesity of grief, you think, How can a body withstand this? Then you hold life like a face between your palms, a plain face, no charming smile, no violet eyes, and you say, yes, I will take you I will love you, again.
- Ellen Bass