Poetic therapy: two poems for when you break or are haunted

How To Be Old
How To Be Old
Poetic therapy: two poems for when you break or are haunted

In a storm of regrets or negative thoughts, when you feel broken or haunted, a poem can help you to mend. That’s informal poetic therapy. Today Kintsugi by Janis Freegard and When Befriending Ghosts by Siobhan Harvey are poetic therapy for me. Which poems do you turn to? I’m Rachel McAlpine, 81, a New Zealand poet.

A pottery bowl that has been broken and mended with gold lacquer along the break lines. Example of kintsugi, gold mending.
A pottery bowl mended with gold lacquer along the break lines: an example of kintsugi. Photo: Haragayato CC BY-SA

Kintsugi by Janis Freegard

You will break and break and keep breaking until you’re on the floor
Wondering whether you can ever rise. (You can.)

You’ll break until you feel you may never be whole again.
(You will be.)

But you’ll be altered. Now is the time for kintsugi,
the Japanese art of repairing with gold, mending the cracks

in smashed ceramics to make something more beautiful.
You’ll reassemble yourself and use gold to seal the fissures.

You’ll be better than before. Don’t stay damaged —
That’s no use to anyone. Don’t give yourself more pity than you need.

As soon as you’re ready, heal. (On second thoughts,
You may never be ready. Do it anyway.)

Trust me when I say: it’s going to be better. Trust me when I say:
This isn’t your fault. This shouldn’t have happened.

But it has and you couldn’t have stopped it. Make sure
whatever happens next is good. Really good.

Prepare your lacquer pot,
Mix in the gold.

Janis Freegard’s Weblog

If Befriending Ghosts Siobhan Harvey

If they are the legacy left in lost code
If they are the beginning of broken soul

If they are the bitter end of love
If they are the sour taste of rejection

If they are the other side of the story
If they are the curses cast into oblivion

If they are the chemical rendering of light
If they are the sky at the point of breaking

If they are a house troubled by occupants
If they are a dwelling upon difficult territory

If they are my crying out of pain
If they are my tearing open old wounds

If they are my looking deep inside
If they are my viscera, blood and bile

I will give them oxygen and time
I will give them fuel and flame

I will raise them to ruin, to wreck
I will raise them as lovers, as pets

I will wear them up like a leash
I will wear them down to a dust

I will be their armour, their second skin
I will be their padded cell, their asylum

Siobhan Harvey

4 thoughts on “Poetic therapy: two poems for when you break or are haunted

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great site you have Rachel and soooo loved your interview with Pooja! Golden nugets here. visit sometime when time permits 🌷

  2. Mariyammirza says:

    Reaally inspiring mam

  3. "Miss BB" says:

    I like the first, the best…..

    “Miss BB”

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you Miss BB. That’s the essential idea, after all.

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