“My feeling is that poetry is also a healing process, and when a person tries to write poetry with depth or beauty, they will find themselves guided along paths which will heal them, and this is more important, actually, than any of the poetry they write.”
Recently, twenty-five of our community members with vasculitis gathered with poet Jim Elsaesser over Zoom for a Healing Poetry Workshop. They spent nearly two hours talking, exploring, writing, and sharing in community.
Several of the participants have offered to share their poems. May their poems touch your spirit and remind you: you’re not alone.
What illness looks like
I stare at the trees outside my big picture window.
Cloistered in my bubble of glass and separated from the buzzing world outside, a stark contrast to the silence of my distinct universe.
I stare at all the ways and means of days gone by
I miss me sometimes.
My head races with all the things I want to do and as I try to rise,
I am swept back down as an avalanche of fatigue or pain washes over me.
I am better these days,
I tell myself.
I am better,
as I walk and do my physical therapy
My intentions are good.
I have not regained my life back; it is gone like a joyful cruise beyond the horizon.
I’ve been left on the shore of a bizarre and unfamiliar land.
Forced to create a world that’s new,
Rising from the ashes of what remains.
Waiting … to feel better, to get energy, to function, to socialize.
The poems that had been hiding
In the eyes of the skunks for centuries
Crawled out and curled at his feet
I too hide myself
With my illness
Afraid I may not be able to handle what I find
Not sure others can
It is not always intentional
But it is always suffering
Self imposed loneliness
So I must push
To crawl out and curl up at one’s feet
Martha Ann Najera’s poem:
Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us, we find poems.
Poems are everywhere in disguise. Oft overlooked as trivial, lacking meaning, power, virtue.
Let’s take time to notice, truly notice. Let’s take time to breathe, truly breathe. Let’s open our eyes, hearts, spirits to the beauty around us.
Life is what we choose to make it. Let’s uncover the hidden sublime and bask in its glow.
If I Speak
But it’s hard for others to see what you sense and feel. You look fine, they say. So well rested as if you just
holidayed. The welcome backs as if nothing’s changed. Don’t they see or sense the danger that looms ahead with
every twist and turn? Silent symptoms that make my insides scream and tremble. Need I fear? If I speak, will they
Let Me Know
by Bari Murray
Let me know
What you think
How you feel
If you’re in pain…
Or some day in the future
Here’s my cell number
Whispered the smiling, caring
Rheumatologist with the
Gold leather shoes
Thick brown glasses
And long white coat
Handing over a yellow
Walking out of the clinic’s room
Just learning about
My life-threatening diagnosis
Life with vasculitis
Will be ok
And three years later
Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives gives us
What a life I can have
I could travel all around the world visiting every country meeting
it’s amazing people and learning its culture
I could run a marathon like the big one in NYC and feel the breeze pass by me
I could build myself a huge pink Barbie palace with a matching pool
where I can swim all day
I could learn to fly any plane so I can travel anywhere I wanted on a whim
I could become a bakery chef designing the most delicious chocolate
delights ever seen
I could become a medical researcher and create treatments to cure all
rare diseases in our world
Back to reality,
I am who I am with love
I thank my family and friends for their endless support
I thank my chihuahua dogs for their cuddles and endless understanding
Lastly, I thank my heart and soul for being my best friend