Thanks to Tom Clausen for posting his morning photos and their accompanying text. The closing stanzas of Mary Oliver’s poem “Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way” remind me of the years I led a chapter of H.O.P.E., a spousal loss support group here in South Jersey.
When one is alone and lonely, the body
gladly lingers in the wind or the rain,
or splashes into the cold river, or
pushes through the ice-crusted snow.
Anything that touches.
Anything That Touches
One lesson in the grief support group tells us
that time, talk, tears, and touch are needed
for the healing journey.
We cry our tears, talk about our loneliness,
and share our need for loving touch as we
hug one another at the meeting’s end.
Another lesson talks about how we should
seek the natural world, get out of the closed
house of our grief, tilt our faces to the sky.
Some have pets, and that helps. Some hug
pillows at night, spend hours on the phone
for the distant touch of another voice.
In childhood I discovered that when I deeply
looked at something, I was somehow touching
it—as if my eyes could tangibly feel.
Shortly after my husband died, some years
ago now, I sat on an airplane and observed
my seat mate gently stroking his wife’s arm.
And I found myself folding my arms across
my lap, my left hand slowly stroking my right
forearm, unconsciously comforting myself.
In this pandemic grief-time, when so many
of us are alone in our rooms, we can go out to
touch the shining world, even in wind or rain.
Our bodies can join the family of trees, rejoice
in nearby rivers, straighten to greet the mountains,
and push through the icy crust of our isolation.
© 2020 Penny Harter