The testing ground of love is how we help each other through suffering and loss without robbing each other of the chance to feel and grow. This poem bears witness to such a time for me.
Last week, I was on a pier in Charleston.
There was a pelican, very close. I remem-
bered that pelicans make their nest by pluck-
ing feathers from their chest. The water kept
lapping and I felt illumined, for a moment.
Aware that you were home, medicating Mira.
Aware my father was on his side, unable to get
out of bed. Aware your brother, unable to choose
life, was again in jail. Aware that you are nesting
like a pelican in the middle of all this. Last night,
in the concert, as the guitars softened our worry,
I watched the light of the theatre quiet your face,
as I have for years, and thought, I know we will lose
things dear to us and it will seem impossible to go on.
And though the weight of grief we fear and master
looms like a dark god, I will be there when words
fail, to rub your feet and stir the soup, to
sweep up the slivers of pain that will come
from us. I know each thing we lose will cut
a string, but life is learning to play music
with the strings that are left. I took your
hand and closed my eyes. Aware that
the pelican so many miles away
was in flight.
A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or a loved one, discuss what nesting means for each of you, how you create it, mend it, go and come from the nest of those you love.