Thursday, July 23, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Mercedes Lawry

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.  ― Gwendolyn Brooks  

Split This Rock Virtual Open Mic announcement includes a black background with red Split This Rock logo, text that reads "Virtual Open Mic," and an illustration of a hanging lamp sending out rays of light over a laptop.
As we journey through political, economic, and global health crises, we turn to poetry to share truths that unearth underlying causes, illuminate impacts, and insist on transformative change. For many of us, today’s challenges are not new. The struggle of isolation, economic insecurity, inadequate medical care, deadly institutionalized negligence, governmental decisions that put Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, disabled, sick, and other structurally precarious people at greater risk are not new. Today, many more people are experiencing the vulnerability of these unrelenting issues. We recognize this opportunity for a heightened awareness of how our very survival depends on one another.

Poetry can help keep the flame of resilience, solidarity, and resistance alive in us. It can help us process and move through grief, anger, loneliness. Poetry can be a comfort when the most necessary actions are to rest and recover. It can remind us of what’s at stake, that our lives and legacy are worth the fight. As cultural workers, we know that culture shapes our political and social imagination at a foundational level. As poets, we can use poetry to map what is, what has been, and possibly, the way forward, including the reasons not to return to what does not honor and protect our lives, our communities, and our planet. 

From late April to mid-May, Split This Rock asked poets to send the words they chant to get out of bed, to raise their fists, to encourage their kin, to remind us, as this crisis does, that “we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” To read all of these poems, visit Split This Rock’s website.


In the Early Garden with Reason
By Mercedes Lawry

How did that one huge fist
of a cloud form, alone
in the empty sky? What is weather
but a moment in time
surrounded by atmospheric jazz,
a roil of ions, collision and hiss?

I am sometimes in awe
and sometimes puzzled.
There is no telling what will shake you up.
March wrestled itself in
trailing webs of frost.
I take cold comfort in the crocus,
plum and yellow, moon-white,
in the emerging green furls.

How does this stack up against
the scofflaws flapping their greedy hands?
You pay attention or you don’t.
You plant the early peas and the onions,
knowing the slugs are making their way.
You swallow the cold wind and are glad of it.

Listen as Mercedes Lawry reads "In the Early Garden with Reason."

Previously published in Theodate, 2012. 

No comments: