Poetry is Necessary

Sometimes there’s nothing for it but to write. Often that happens at times of greatest distress, and I’ve certainly written a lot of poems about pain. I know the poem has done its job when the writing brings me back around to a place of peace. It’s a process that can heal.

Of course, there are times when grief is simply too big to be gotten through in one sitting, or one writing, or in one form of expression. It’s hard to write when you can’t do anything but cry. But eventually crying can give way to an insight, some scrap of illumination that one can hold on to, and maybe start to put into words. One of my best poems came out of grief when I wanted to rage at the world. I had to sing, too, for a long time after the poem came.

Here’s what happened.

 

Turtle

One foot lifted over the white line on
Interstate 75 North in Georgia,
she’s on a mission for life
but we know it’s suicide.
I pull the pickup hard over;
we sprint back to catch her.
She’s not in the road,
she’s on the shoulder,
facing the grass
and we might be glad she changed her mind
but it’s too late.
Some great wheel
just after I spotted her,
maybe before I even pulled over,
kicked her aside
and now, her head crushed,
she waits to die
and the eggs bulging
between her back legs
and her tucked tail
will never
even
be laid.

 

—©Kate Spencer 2004/2010
No copying, use, or reproduction by any means without express written permission of the author.

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2 thoughts on “Poetry is Necessary

  1. This is so sad! Killing the snake yesterday was a brave and humane act. My heart will never stop going out to the animals I see laying on the side of the road maimed or killed because of humans.

    • Yes, Amy, it's appalling how many animals die for our addiction to speed. Thank you for being there when we found the beautiful snake injured on the road. I've worked in wildlife rehabilitation, which sometimes requires humanely ending their suffering when their injuries are too great. All too often they are injured by our vehicles, our trash, our carelessness about the effects of our actions. It's a blessing to be able to do something for them, even when it's hard. –Kate

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