I’ve been thinking of a poem a lot over the past few days, so I wanted to share it with you.
The shadow of death is looming over me. A family member is very far away and dying, and I can’t be there.
Disappointment and worries have plagued me lately. It’s hard to see the sunlight in these gray, dreary days.
Marge Piercy’s words have stuck to me for years:
Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half a tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.
Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in, a thicket and a bramble wilderness to the outside but to us interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.
Live as if you like yourself, and it may happen: Reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always.
For every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting, after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.
This is not the entire poem, but the part that speaks to me. For the entire poem please use this link.
Here are three parts of Marge Pierce’s poem The Seven Pentacles that stick out to me:
A vine does not bring down a tree overnight. With slow determination it spreads and grows and draws nourishment. Eventually the tree is choked out.
“Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree”.
The tree you need to bring down is the looming negativity in your life.For me, it feels like I have a forest of negativity choking out all the sunlight.
Gnaw in the dark
Darkness is when we sleep best. Sleep is when we heal. To me this line means that we need to grow where we are.
“Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.”
If we’re in the dark – then we should rest and take in what we need so that when the sunlight returns we have what we need to grow. Your darkness may look different than mine. Your sunlight may have a different hue than what I experience.
Rabbit runs and burrows
Over the years I keep returning to this poem especially for this line:
“[A] thicket and a bramble wilderness to the outside but to us interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.“
There was someone I worked with for years that would butter up to me and then stab me in the back over and over again. They did everything they could to make me look bad. Eventually I had to tell myself to be a thicket and bramble – on guard – but not build a wall. I wanted to still be rabbit runs and burrows – soft and warm in my heart.
My wish for you is that you, too, will fight persistently toward your dreams, keep nourishing yourself even when it’s dark, and that instead of defensive walls you form brambles that keep out the bad but leave the deep network of your heart still accessible.