If you see me writing poetry it might be because I saw a flower too beautiful to let it live only a few days. I needed to write it down, immortalize it somehow, before its petals went limp and withered under the sun. Or maybe I had one of those poetic moments where God’s common grace appeared to me a small miracle, one I rushed to write down so that I wouldn’t forget just how blessed I am to have a dog, a deck, or a bowl of fresh fruit in the kitchen.
But if you see me writing poetry, it might also be because I am afraid. I’m sorry. I don’t always write with the bravery I should. I tremble, sometimes, composing Word documents that will never be shared. There are reasons I am scared. It is not because I am worried about what you will think. It is that some who have hurt me are watching. They are waiting to remind me that I am smaller than they are. To cut my voice short. To drain my veins of courage. Their intimidation hovers, like a shadow, over my keyboard.
Even now, when my past is triggered, my body begins to fold up like a pill bug. Evan first noticed this during an argument we had when we were dating. It scared him. Now, he is more used to it. And - by God’s grace - it happens much less often. Counseling and medication have helped. But, some days, I still find myself rolling up, as if to wait out a storm.
On pill bug days, poetry feels safer. I can be bold without being direct. I say what I need to say, even cloak it in imagery and metaphor, without being afraid. And sometimes, if you see me writing poetry, it is because I saw a flower. One so drenched in rain, so low to the ground, that I knew it was the right vehicle to drive my bravery home.
When the rains come in the midwest
early spring flowers take a beating.
Their heads bow down low
to the ground, and their petals
lose their weightlessness.
Is this the punishment
My yellow irises try to lift
their heavy heads, and shake off
the lingering droplets. I can only
hope that their roots were fed,
instead of drowned.
Why does the sun make promises
the rain can’t keep?
Foolish flowers, all of them,
thinking it was safe
to unfold their petals
and open up.
Listen to this sketch