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


My Brother the Poet: Was and Will Be

On one of my earlier posts I shared a poem my brother Jim wrote to me in five minutes flat.

He’s always experiences life most intimately in pictures & images weather internal or external and it’s how he tends to communicate and express those magic moments that lie somewhere in between the senses   You know how sometimes you just can’t FIND a way to express something you’ve seen or felt?  Those “intangible” moments where emotion and serendipity and insight collide?  I grapple with ways to express them, and when I get one of his poems I feel like I am looking inside a window that expresses what i could not find the words to express.  That’s what poetry is to me.: a way to say something that can not be said otherwise.

This one was written for our younger Brother and Sister in Law on the day of their wedding Sept 20th, 1997.  Our father had passed six years previous, and his presence was so very missed there as we stood in the sunlight of the field that grew wild with flowers which had been collected to put under the tent on the tables in ball glass jars.  The perfect day… the perfect poem- to express the hopes and dreams and challenges of a marriage yet to be embarked upon.

Was and Will be

I found you in the springtime
when you were the snowmelt
Packed seasons turned granular, crystal in march sun.
The Sparkle that weeps into opening streams
You stood like a willow with a dandelion crown.

But it will be in winter
I will love you most of all

I followed you in Summer
when you were the river
Broad and flat as my hand
Drifting along bends, conforming to curves,
tumbling toward ocean
where the surf gathers up
with blood surging, heart pounding
I arrived on your shores.

But it will be in winter
I will love you most of all

I married you in the Autumn
when you were the empty field
your sounds the last echo of fleeting jays
your words the incessant call of the crickets
your movements the shimmer and quiver, the dance of the aspen
Your eye and eyelash in each wild aster
I held you like the last fallen maple leaf
my skin hot crimson

But it will be in winter
I will love you most of all

For it will be in Winter
that we will find ourselves
lost in the darkness
of our silence and isolation
mired in the deep snows
of burdens borne alone
sorrows blanketed under
pierced by chilling winds
of uncertainty and doubt
of what we thought we once believed

And it will be in Winter that
I will love you the brightest
I will love you the deepest
I will love you the warmest

It will be in Winter
that i will love you most of all

~ JL Grady Sept 20th 1997
On the wedding of Joe and Laura Grady

Makes you glad it’s almost spring again huh?

My Brother: The Poet


He tells me it just “comes out” and it’s true- I’ve seen it happen.  I wonder though how his mind can work this way.  Five minutes ago I sent him an email letting him know that my house is officially on the market.  Five mintes later he sent me this… a poem- for us, me. him. you. those & they.  It’s a poem for me, yet I think so many can relate.  Can they?

He’s written like this for as long as I’ve been his sister. Forty years. Sometimes I am just in awe because he can capture what I can’t say…no matter how many words I write.

First Seeing
When we first saw the place
We knew
We were so certain
All our dreams would be fulfilled
We would all be there
For generations to come
Especially the new one
We had brought along that was tugging on our sleeves
Wanting to climb up into the branches of our arms.
We knew ahead of time
All the laughter that would float in the air
Like bubbles from those silly toys that every child gets sooner or later
Spinning, spinning as they made them
Their eyes focused on every one
While you and eye failed to see
Eye to eye
As conversations descended into
Eye for an eye.
Soon enough
All we could see was a future
Far away from the big elm tree
In the center of our little circular drive
You drove away first, or I made you
I would follow later
Going the other direction
Leaving only
The dreams and the big elm tree
For the Realtor to show
The next generation of couples.

-Jim Grady