The Thing Is – August 2 2018

The Thing Is
Ellen Bass

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

For all of us who might think that, if we are floored by our grief, it indicates that we are doing something wrong, that we are not being truly spiritual, that God has turned against us or that now it is time for us to turn against God; for all of us who have on occasion this truly human experience of loss and heartache and despair that may at times feel as if it will never leave – in other words, for all of us who live in these bodies – there are those who offer us encouragement to step forward once again into life. For the way out is the way through. And the way is to love.

Today I will imagine a happiness that is large enough to encompass even my most wretched sadness.
The Flatiron Building, from Madison Sq. Park, NYC
All original material copyright © 2018 Jeff Kober