I wrote this poem the other day:
I am a tree in winter,
Stripped bare of vivid leaves,
Red for passion,
Yellow for happiness,
Orange for anger,
And brown for those in-between days,
Where I just feel... nothing.
The memories of bygone loves
Engraved in my sides,
Never to be erased,
One crossed out heart after another,
Me. plus the wind.
Me. plus the sunshine.
Me. plus art.
Me.... plus, him.
Each representing a season,
Now passed me by.
You twisted the knife in my ribcage,
Slid an axe through the bars,
Do you think that I cannot feel the blade.
Hidden among the knots?
I thought I stopped caring for you...
Why does this still hurt?
No matter what lies I tell myself,
I cannot deny this pain.
You forget that scars run deep,
I took all the responsibility,
Sheltered you from the rain.
I. bore the burden.
The weight of snow in my branches,
Until I feared they would crack--
No, begged them to, if only to stop this heart ache.
They say strength is how far you can go
Before you break,
Is when you reach your breaking point,
And keep going.
Did I have too much strength to make it work?
Did I hold on to you for too long?
Or did you mistake my leaves for play-things,
As you picked them up and scattered them in the breeze?
I whisper a prayer on the wind,
Hoping for spring.
Because hope is sunshine peeking through the clouds,
Hope is flower blooms in February,
And hope is the moss that will someday,
Cover over, these scars.
He showed up at church with a girl. At least they didn't come together, but I have heard rumors, and I know. They have gone other places. Together. I watch from afar, and try not to care. I quiet Mom's hennish noises with a gentle reminder, "Grace, mom. It means nothing." As much as I pretend it doesn't bother me, all I want to do is go home. But I stay.
Edging into the sanctuary, I clung to my best friend, and I prayed. I prayed so hard. "God, I have no idea what to do. What to think. How to react. What to say..." The music didn't stir me this particular morning. So instead, I wrote the chicken scratchings that would become this poem. I felt a little guilty, at first. Excuses and reasons trilled through my head:
The poem was "distracting" me from church.
I should be singing right now.
The poem wasn't about God.
The poem was about feelings I shouldn't feel. Bitter things.
Can God appreciate a bitter poem?
I didn't know. But I convinced myself, it was okay because I feel God has gifted me with poetry and writing and if I feel inspired during church, it is not wrong to write it down. Later, Mom told me, "Is writing poetry not its own form of worship?" And I realized I was a bit stuck in my idea of what "worship" really means. Poetry can be an act of worship; look at the Psalms! (I think I need to read more psalms.) The fragments and phrases filled an entire page of my notebook. That afternoon, I turned them into a fully-fledged poem. A beautiful poem that perfectly conveyed through imagery how I really felt.
I have a right to be angry, to think to myself, "Was I so easily replaced?" I have a right to be bitter. But I'm not. I have done everything in my strength to protect him. I have tried so hard to guard my words when I talk about our relationship so others wouldn't see him negatively. I have struggled against my own gossipy tendencies and refrained from speaking what would not be beneficial for others to hear. Instead of venting to anyone who would listen to me, I chose a select few to share my heart.
But that didn't take away the hurt.
I believe that in writing this poem, I have found many things-- Closure. Hope. Healing. Strength. An end. And a beginning. And every time I read this poem, I cannot help sighing as I finish the final stanza. A good kind of sigh, though. A healthy sigh. It is a sigh of letting go. I am closing the door on this chapter, and turning the page of the next because I am tired of looking back. I sigh, because I finally feel like I can start over. I am not angry. Maybe it stings a little bit, but that will go away with time. I have done quite a few things in this process that I believe was leading to closure, but nothing with the finality of this poem. I feel like a burden, the snow in my branches, has been lifted.
My mom asked me about the moss, she said, "covering over implies pain might still be there just 'covered.'" Which is true. And I will probably still struggle with this for a little while longer. "But," I told her, "The moss implies growth." The memories will always be there; they will never be truly erased. But over time, the moss, a sort of life, will grow to cover over and soften the past. That is wherein the hope of this poem lies.