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.
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.
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