Language is a sweet ponderable. I am living the idea in these current days that receiving comfort is not the same as being comfortable.
I find this to be true in the poem by Janet Wong, “The Ones They Loved the Most” found in her collection NIGHT GARDEN.
And I find this to be true in the poems of THIS PLACE I KNOW, Poems of Comfort, selected by Georgia Heard to comfort children who witnessed the World Trade Center tragedy and later, the soothing words becam bound and illustrated for a beautiful book.
Recently my dear sister through marriage, Angela, read in church from the sage poem of Ecclesiastes. And yes, “To every thing there is a season. . . ” always catches my breath, the idea that all the emotions, all the highs and lows have a place. This gentle chanting, familiar regularly at Bible lessons from kindergarden age through age thirteen. I knew I would take comfort from the line “. . . a time to live and a time to die . . .” and althoughI I needed to hear this line of Chapter Three, I felt at that moment & still feel at unexpected reminders, forlorn.
I agree deeply with Georgia Heard as she shares in her book that, “Poetry has always offered comfort and consolation during sorrowful times, and reminded us of the places in our lives, inside and out, that can help us heal.” If you are comfortable now, but in wisdom know that some day you will need comfort, perhaps you keep handy comfort-giver poems:
-Ch. three, Ecclesiastes.
-I KNOW THIS PLACE, Poems of Comfort.
Lines in this touchingly illustrated book such as from –
—“Stars” by Deborah Chandra: “I like the way they looked down from the sky /And didn’t seem to mind the way I cried.”
-lines from “Trouble, Fly” by Susan Marie Swanson:
Let our night
be a night of peace.”
– lines from “Holes” by Lillian Morrison:
-“Strangest of gaps
. . .
the hole is inside us
it brims over
is empty and full at once.”
Dad Annino is missed every day, in oh so many ways. Because my hubby’s parents have long selected winters in Florida rather the cold blanketing New England shores where more of our family lives, most of our Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter festivities, meals, prayer ceremonies, have centered on them, for at least 27 years.
Easter was a special Dad Annino holiday. He collected as many of the palm leaves handed out at church he could hold, to later sit outside in the sunshine near the lemon and kumquat trees and fold them in beautiful ways for gifts. Always always always his intricate folds included a sacred shape he learned in his child days on the island of Sicily. Although our opinions sat firm on “different sides of the olive grove wall” on many topics, I loved him with a fierceness that at first surprised me and then I accepted, not trying to puzzle it out.
Although he, Mom Annino and my hubby, with me, were all in Florida, the stretch of our state is such that it was an eight-to-ten-hour round trip to be with them depending upon holiday traffic.
In between visits, in more recent years I began warbling to Dad Annino over the telephone and lucked into finding that each time, I had picked a song he recognized and loved it that he either sang or hummed along with me.
Twenty-seven years ago when I was the family’s new Mom, Dad Annino told me a story. In a small Sicilian village a mother of many children woke up early in the morning to a ruckus among kids in her home. Ignoring the bickering, she got up, calmly washed, dressed and set about to make herself a cup of coffee. Only after she had sat as long as she wanted, clean, fresh, ready for the day, supping the sacred morning cafe and enjoying her morning pastry, did she tend to the squabbling children. “You see, la Mama must take care of herself, first, before she can take chare of la bambina,” he said, wrapping me up in a story hug. Good-bye, sweet good bye to Dad Annino, but to paraphrase St. Matthew, I will feel you with me, always, even unto my end.
More poem comfort-
lines from Janet Wong’s “The Ones They Loved the Most”
-“My mother says
the spirits of the dead
the ones they loved
Finally, if any of this appears garbled or out of place, please know I have a funny story about my laptop traveling to Kentucky, yet I never have. I’m temporarily working on my mobile phone, praise be to it. – jga