“The heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking.” Stanley Kunitz, “Testing Tree”
When I first read this line, it was like a simultaneous punch in the gut and discovery of wings. Stanley Kunitz hinted at something I knew was possible, but didn’t have any real experience with—the ability to be hurt and stay open at the same time.
Many years later, I see the invitation frequently. For instance, just this week I was walking with someone I love who said something to me that hurt very much. I felt the impulse to close up, shut him out, push him away. I felt the urge to blame, to point my finger, to change him.
Yet in noticing the impulses rise, I also saw the invitation to let them go. I was able to speak to him and listen to him, then, from a place that was both hurt and open. It was incredible. In fact even now writing about it I am nearly giddy with the freedom that comes from the blessings of letting the heart break and not trying to fix it right away, and also not trying to pretend it doesn’t hurt.
Saying yes to the breaking. Stanley, is this what you meant? We live by breaking. This poem rose out of that experience.
|'This means nothing to me' artistic photography by Sarah Ann Wright|
Living by Breaking
Like any other muscle,
the heart, when injured,
will clench, and will stay that way
for a long, long time, most likely
long past the time of usefulness.
But when it relaxes again,
perhaps because it has been touched
in just the right way, or perhaps
just because it is exhausted
with its own clenching, well then
it is like when the sun hits the forest
in late morning and releases the scent
of pine and greening leaves.
And it is like when you walk past a spring
and a dozen blue butterflies all brush
you with their wings, a feeling so impossibly
soft and tender that you cannot help
but let the heart stay open, though you know
it will be wounded again. It is not
in the end the heart itself that matters.
It is the practice of releasing again, again.
Poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer “is a chanteuse of the heart,” says poet Art Goodtimes. She served two terms as the first poet laureate for San Miguel County, Colorado, where she still leads monthly poetry readings, teaches in schools, leads writing workshops and leaves poems written on rocks around the town. Her most recent collection, The Less I Hold, comes out of her poem-a-day practice, which she has been doing for over seven years. Her work has also appeared on A Prairie Home Companion and in O Magazine, on tie-dyed scarves, alleyway fences and in her children’s lunchboxes. Favorite one-word mantra: adjust. Visit her website here for ideas about writing, and to read her daily poems click here.
~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~