Less than a week after the tragedy in Boston, words still seem to fail us in understanding such sorrow for those we’ve never met. As it is National Poetry Month, perhaps we can let poets speak for us instead.
‘After Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes’
By Emily Dickinson
After great pain a formal feeling comes–
The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs;
The stiff Heart questions–was it He that bore?
And yesterday–or centuries before?
The feet, mechanical, go round
A wooden way
Of ground, or air, or ought,
A quartz contentment, like a stone.
This is the hour of lead
Remembered if outlived,
As freezing persons recollect the snow–
First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.
‘Photo of My Grandmother Running Toward Us on a Beach in Ilokos’
by Patrick Rosal
Consider how happy she is
carrying the whole load of an ocean
on her head the way some women carry
water or fruits or fish My Lola
and the whole goddamned ocean
Tides Whalebone Reef And my dark
dark cousins stomping through the breakers
She is closing her eyes running
toward her American grandchildren
who wait for her on the shore
She is sopping wet trying to balance
an entire sea on her head Her arms are
flung wide open And she laughs
as if she were asking us
to bring our burdens too
Lines from ‘Macbeth’
by William Shakespeare
Ne’er pull your hat upon your brows.
Give sorrow words
the grief that does not speak
knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.