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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Filtering by Tag: poetry

Anne Sexton, "Welcome Morning"

jenmichel@me.com

"Welcome Morning" by Anne Sexton  

There is joy

in all:

in the hair I brush every morning,

in the Cannon towel, newly washed,

that I rub my body with each morning,

in the chapel of eggs I cook

each morning,

in the outcry from the kettle

that heats my coffee

each morning,

in the spoon and the chair

that cry "hello there, Anne"

each morning,

in the godhead of the table

that I set my silver, plate, cup upon

each morning.

 

All this is God,

right here in my pea-green house

each morning

and I mean,

though often forget,

to give thanks,

to faint down by the kitchen table

in a prayer of rejoicing

as the holy birds at the kitchen window

peck into their marriage of seeds.

 

So while I think of it,

let me paint a thank-you on my palm

for this God, this laughter of the morning,

lest it go unspoken.

 

The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,

dies young.

The relief of hearing language

jenmichel@me.com

Much was renewed at the writing retreat I attended over a week ago, not least a love of poetry. I have Chris to thank in large part for this, who wrote a beautiful and compelling essay on the poetry of Liberty Hyde Bailey, which he read aloud to us. (Find the time to read it: you will soon be buying a copy of Wind and Weather.) I can't, in fact, say that I always understand poetry, but even when I fail to understand it, I can fall in with its rhythms and startling use of language. At the Convent last week, I found a volume of poetry by T.S. Eliot. I remember having fallen in love with the Four Quarters in graduate school.

. . . Words strain,

Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,

Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,

Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,

Will not stay still. 

Kathleen Norris, in her book Dakota, speaks of her experience as a writer in the Dakota plains, having very little literary company with which to share her days. She describes the poetry readings she seldom  has the chance to attend as "refreshing as a rain that drenches parched soil." Her friend calls it, "the relief of hearing language."

We are a culture who is more and more captivated by images rather than words. And as Christians, we ought to feel wary about this trending towards sight rather than sound. We live not by sight, but by faith. And faith comes from hearing.

On the last morning of the writing retreat, I carried to my room the prayer book we had been using all week, Phyllis Tickle's Divine Hours, and copied from it the phrases and prayers that had resonated with me throughout the week. Below, I've created what might be called a "found psalm." Found poetry is created by using words and phrases from other poets and rearranging and reframing them to create another poem. A found psalm, as I've called this, has its source in the psalms, readings, and liturgical prayers we shared together in our communal times of prayers.

If you would like to download and print your own copy, you can here: On Whom I Rely.

 

On Whom I Rely

 

My heart is stirring with a noble song.

You are good and bring forth good.

The High and Omnipotent God, the All-Glorious One.

It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in flesh.

It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in rulers.

 

He sent forth his word and healed us.

The Lord has sworn and he will not recant.

Let us give thanks to the Lord for his mercy and the wonders he does for his children.

It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in flesh.

It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in rulers.

 

Let what we suffer teach us to be merciful.

Let our sins teach us to forgive.

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame because of us.

It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in flesh.

It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in rulers.

 

God of justice, God of mercy,

Bless all those who are surprised with pain this day.

Bless the work we begin and complete; make good its defects.

It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in flesh.

It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in rulers.

 

Be our strong rock, a castle to keep us safe.

You are our crag and stronghold.

Lead and guide us, for the sake of your Name.

It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in flesh.

It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in rulers.

 

Find us in our weakness.

Rescue us in lostness.

God of mercy, give us the help of your grace.

It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in flesh.

It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in rulers.

 

Thanksgiving sacrifices and shouts of joy

To our Father in Heaven;

Be lifted up today.

It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in flesh.

It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in rulers.