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
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,
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
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,
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
One soft syllable
can release the flesh
when it's gripped like a fist.
One aching chorus of a song
can help us rise
are part of his body,
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 is like a baptism,
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,
trying to find the dawn.
Walking Toward Kindness... (2021)
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
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.
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.