The Power of Words

A Selection of Poems from Vicky Edmonds

Author’s Note... (1997)

I was eleven

when I began my mysterious and deepening

relationship with poetry.

It was like my first crush, my first love –

well, next to the boy down the street

who kissed me for the first time,

but that boy's kiss

came and went to the next girl

and poetry has never left me,

even though there were times, even years,

when I left it.

Even then it was always there,

the voice inside the voice,

the intimate one,

the beloved who knows you completely

and still thinks your every move is beautiful.

It has watched me sleep,

witnessed my rage,

fed me when I was starving again and again,

helped me learn the words to pray by

and then let me question

God's every move.

I have never had such a forgiving friend,

such a constant warrior

for my protection,

the guard who never sleeps,

gratefully giving its life

to keep my truth

safe.

                                                                                        

In... (2013)

 

I close my eyes so I can see better

and I try and find you

like a warm current in an ocean.

Sometimes I can feel myself falling in,

accidentally, easily,

like simple gravity pulling you in to a feather bed

but never completely landing,

always drawn deeper in,

suspended in the whispers of the feathers’ understandings of flight.

But I am in, and then there is no other place

I have ever existed.

Many have tried to name you,

but any sound

separated from all sound

limits you in ways you are not limited,

like the openness of vowels

closing on even the softest consonants.

I belong to you like a country,

like a continent that goes on underwater

belongs to all the others,

one body of hills and valleys that you let me rest in,

sight lines different from every movement of land,

and no land.

You hold me like a child

suckling sincerity,

as much as I can drink

and then time to take it all in and digest,

to let you become part of me

as I am drunk back into the body of you...

so grateful you were as hungry for me

as I was for you,

truth.

                                                                                      

With God... (2020)

I don’t know how to make a day anymore,

what is supposed to go into one…

All my responsibilities have evaporated into steam

and drifted away into the sunlight,

leaving this wide expanse of time in their place

with no lines to demarcate guilt or hurry.

What beauty there is in no worry…

And nothing outside of me calls to me,

only this one warm place inside draws me,

calls me rushing happily in and in and in…

I go to the field and you are waiting,

and I sink into your chest like a child

finally safe with her father,

and everything I thought I knew disappears

and I finally know what love means...

And I’ll stay here someday,

finally looking out with your eyes,

with only your movements to take me

wherever I am meant to be…

                                                                                      

Communion of Words... (2021)                                             

  

Words were our first communion,

when sound entered flesh

and we were suddenly not alone.

This world can only be seen through light,

but kindness can also be heard 

in our darkness.

 

We were first christened 

in our mother's wombs,

the sounds around us 

unknown but soothing,

and we have been longing 

for words to reach into our souls 

and find us

ever since.

 

One soft syllable

can release the flesh

when it's gripped like a fist.

One aching chorus of a song 

can help us rise

like angels.

 

These words 

are part of his body,

these sounds 

are in his blood,

and we wait, breathless,

for his silence to break,

for any word 

he may ever offer us...

                                                                               

Letter to the Editor... (2021)

Like Michelangelo taking away

everything that wasn't David,

we are sculpting this piece together,

but sometimes we feel

the uprising movements differently.

We need both soul and mind

to find our way to its hidden beauty,

the chisel and the mallet,

but we both have to know

when the moment is right

to let something fall.

I may feel some exploding curve

calling to me from inside the marble,

a crescendo of uplifting spirit

in a piece of art that will stand alone.

And you, hungry to see it come alive,

may see places I've left unattended,

rough rock on otherwise smooth skin

calling out to be gently sanded.

I have always been afraid of your disapproval,

as though it might crumble me to dust,

but even David, in his vulnerability,

has stood for hundreds of years...

though they said his head was too big,

his right hand larger

than it had a right to be.

But what did the sculptor see

inside the discarded marble

that others couldn't see?

Could he hear David calling to him,

begging to be set free from the stone,

the way I hear these clean white pages

whispering to me?

But some of us need other eyes

to help us find what might have been

lost in translation, accidentally,

while we were so dearly listening

to what was to calling us

from inside the stone.

                                                                                  

Forgiveness... (2021)

 

Forgiveness is like a baptism,

warm water

you let wash over yourself

and the other,

all of us learning,

no one knowing

how to do everything

or anything right

at the start.

 

We are all just where we are…

you help me learn

and I’ll help you,

like parts of the body

all pulling each other through

the dark night together,

and together,

trying to find the dawn.

                                                                                  

Walking Toward Kindness... (2021)

Walking...

I am walking toward kindness,

walking toward love and truth

and away from the ruins of hatred.

I am walking toward my own freedom

from my own prison

of contempt and derision,

and away from the place

where I hold any other as 'less than'.

I carry no weapons in my hands

and don’t want any concealed

in my mind or mouth.

I lay them all down.

They are too heavy to carry

and I have so far to go

if I want to catch even a glimpse of god…

Before I move off of this earth toward him,

before I become part of his breathing again,

I want to walk away from all my failings 

in cruelty and self-righteousness,

and open my mind to a sweeter wind,

beyond the fire and smoke of rage,

I want to open my lungs to the fragrance

of forgiveness.

We are hurting…

we are broken and bloodied

on our own swords

and cut with our own and others’

thoughts like knives…

We are dying.

And what are we dying for?

Because we're not brave enough

to walk toward peace?

Not courageous enough to listen,

not aware enough to conceive of

any life other than our own?

Would we really rather be fighting?

I am tired…

this world has exhausted me

and I no longer have the strength

to fight battles where there are no winners.

I lay down my arms

and my heart,

I leave them here for you

if you want them.

But I will not fight you,

I am walking...

 

But there’s room on the road

if you want to come with me.

                                                                                   

dearly... (2021)

 

What keeps me away from you, god?

What is inside this invisible wall

that I sometimes can't seem to find my way through?

Is it that old belief that I'm not allowed

to speak with you, don't have the right to,

unless I'm given entry by a church or a priest?

Is it the feeling that I'm unworthy of even imagining you,

that I might burn to cinders if I even tried?

And what makes me unworthy?

If I am one of your children,

shouldn't I be allowed to crawl up into

your invisible lap and be held dearly by you?

So what keeps me from even trying some days

when I am so dearly aching for you?

Sometimes you seem an abyss away,

some days even closer than my breathing.

But it must be me who moves away

on the days when I can't feel you...

then, are you left wondering where I've gone?

Do you think I don't love you enough,

or do you know I'm just afraid to stay,

to ask too much and be turned away,

and that I might die in the disappointment?

Every time something's too immense, too beautiful,

too filled with possibilities, I begin to feel afraid,

I close my eyes and back away in case

I'm not allowed entry anyway,

like that first time in a church

where they wouldn't let me even learn about you...

I'm so afraid I won't measure up

that I fail the test before I've even taken it,

thinking it's almost better to hide

than to face an attempt at entry

that will likely leave me turned away anyway...

But what will I lose by trying

that I have not already lost if I don't?

I will die either way someday, and I'd rather

at least attempt to be close to you before I go,

before I see if you're really there waiting for me

as I rise softly out of this body.

So I will let my fears go quiet,

close my eyes and yearn toward you,

hoping you're somewhere inside or outside me

where you've been waiting for me to find my bravery.

Maybe you will still be there,

and you'll lift me to your chest

and surround me in a love

that I can't even conceive of yet...

 

but I so dearly want to.