I’m a closet poet.
Between poems (I often go months without writing one), I doubt whether I’m a poet or not, but then I sit down to grapple with a thought or feeling, and the process of untangling that thought or feeling from my mind’s web yields a poem. I rise up from working in rhyme and meter assured that, yes, I am still a poet.
Although I can recite the first poem I wrote in elementary school (“I run through the field without thinking/ I stare at the sky without blinking…”; can you sense the passion of my tween soul?!), in middle and high school, I do not recall writing any poetry. Nonetheless, my love for writing did develop during those years through keeping journals, composing academic essays and papers, and creating short stories or fictional pieces. Then in the spring semester of my freshman year of college, I took “Intro to Poetry”–worth 3 credit hours towards my degree but of priceless worth to me. After that class, I started writing poetry again, and with more intention.
Since my college graduation in 2009, I write poetry sporadically at best. Nevertheless, writing poems continues to help me come to better understandings of difficult aspects of my life. Most of my poetry is not basking in sunlight; the iambic lines are usually trudging through mud. Yet, without fail, after I finish working on a poem, my mind is cleared and focused enough to hear God’s still, small voice reminding me of His truth, transforming the harsh realities of life that poetry can only describe and discuss. “What Mother Knows” (below) was born out of my wrestling with the anxieties that accompany pregnancy and motherhood.
What Mother Knows
A woman, newly pregnant, often fears
the little that she knows: a baby grows;
another soul exists; a bump appears.
She hides the scale. She cannot see her toes.
A weight bears down upon her now and then:
unknowns–the colors of the nursery, girl
or boy, exhaustion, making love again.
Will she survive the changes and the swirl
of hormones mixed with infant cries? She will.
The female frame can shuttle life from womb
to world, and when her body’s emptied, fill
a room. The minutes, when the fears that loom
above a mother flee, are few. Relief
is a surge with birth–a wave against a reef.
After writing the sonnet, the Holy Spirit brought 1 Peter 3:11b to my mind: “[…] let [her] seek peace and pursue it.” Motherhood can feel inseparable from fear, worry, and stress, but the Word can separate the seemingly inseparable (Hebrews 4:12)! We mothers can experience all-surpassing peace in Jesus Christ–a peace rooted in His salvation and renewed in moment-by-moment surrender to Him. We must, however, seek peace. We must pursue peace; that is, we must pursue the Prince of Peace.
Part of my daily, lifelong pursuit of peace, of Jesus Christ, is through the writing of both prose and poetry. My prayer is that you find in both mediums encouragement to “keep on keepin’ on” in your own pursuit of Peace. The search is not elusive but is continual. I’m so glad we can journey together!