Expelled from Comfort: A Poem for Japan


This morning I donated a measly $10 to the Red Cross by texting 909-99 on my phone. It feels insignificant, really (they just add it to my cell phone bill).

My eldest brother was born in Japan in 1949.  Our dad brought back some paintings ( similar to the one above but much more beautiful- pen and ink) and these images hung on the walls of our staircase and I went up and down, up and down, never really having to much relationship to them other than copying one for art class when I was in high school. I found the image beautiful.

This same brother of mine is a Poet, and I wonder how he must be feeling about all this.  I myself feel particularly lame and unhelpful.  Similar to the way I feel when any disaster strikes somewhere in the world where I am not and all I can do is, with deep gratitude, pull my children close and take a moment and think of the only thing I can to try and relate.  In order to do that I realize everyone in Japan has a child or is a child…therefore, we all have someone we care for. They are just like me.

Our father passed away when I was twenty, and because my brother was quite a bit older than I, he became the most noble of volunteers to coach a girl (because I was, still, just a girl) who felt lost, without a compass.

He stepped bravely into shoes still barely worn… the soles and treads still shiny and new to continue the walk of parenthood by my side, even though he himself had never really had one (long story), or been one himself. When things in my life, or in the world  just don’t make any sense, he’s the reliable place I cling to – my buoy.

He’s at a trade show this week on the west coast, but I’m thinking about him and wishing he could write a Poem that can explain the inexplicable that is the disaster in Japan.

In his absence I found this one:

A Poem for Japan

The earthquake came and the water rushed in and the world was turned upside down,

Time circled once again and life seemed to end but in the shadows of death I see a flicker that time will come again, but

How shall it come and whence cometh it and who shall know of its coming,

As these old eyes grow dim slowly like an autumn leaf floating down an Aspen hill and my memory is dragged along however unwillingly by the force of such an awesome falling,

I wonder how shall the flash of recognition occur, how shall the veil be lifted, when shall the silence be rent asunder by a shout so loud that the cosmos itself quakes,

Ah in waiting shall we have the answer but in the meantime we are expelled from our comfort like a birth not sought but realized

~Bishop Andrew Gentry