|Mainz Book of Hours|
Save me O God;
For the waters are come in even unto the soul.
I am sunk in deep mire, where there is no standing;
I am come into deep waters, and the flood overwhelmeth me.
(The Holy Scriptures, Jewish Publication Society, 1917)
Anita Cadena Sánchezfrom her poem “Medicine Basket”in Soul Making in the Valley of the Shadow p. 6
My pen is lighterThan a hummingbird’s feather. This burdenIs too much for it to bear.
Why, O God, has Thou cast us off forever?
Why doth Thine anger smoke against the flock of Thy pasture?
(Psalm 74:1 The Holy Scriptures, Jewish Publication Society, 1917.)
In troubled times many of us turn to the Psalms, as we did in Deep River when, after the 2016 election and the assaults of climate change and the pandemic, we found ourselves writing poems about a world turned upside down and inside out. Like the psalmist, Deep River poet Daniela Kantorová pleads for help from the divine in her poem “The Ship:”
Dear God, please turn the ship
that floats in the rain above Foothill Blvd.
It lands in an apple orchard
The back merges with the land
He restoreth my soul;He guideth me in straight paths for his name’s sake.Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of deathI will fear no evil,For thou art with meThy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.(Psalm 23: 3-6 The Holy Scriptures, Jewish Publication Society, 1917)
Everything is receding darkeningthere is sadness as the trees gothe river birds and birdsong the skyall beloved
in my last daysmay I sit by the black basalt fountain wild blueirisesand hooded orioles among my redwood treeslet me recall the names of my children…
Carry me back through the laboring darkinto first light first cry first touchof mother’s hands
The God of biblical faith…is not a God of the cosmos alone, but also a God of history. A good many psalms…are responses to the most urgent pressures of the historical moment.
|David and his Lyre|
The sibyl breathes deeplyThe vapors from the fire belowShe is no longer herselfShe from a respectable familyShe who is reliably self–possessedIs unhinged by the smell of deathVirginia Lee Chen from “Sibyl” p. 27
These days the dizzying pace and sheer ferocity of changes in our world leave us little to no time to recover from one catastrophe before the next hits. A pernicious pandemic and intensifying climate change events surge like tsunamis over the globe, leaving us roiling in existential crisis and economic, political and social instability…
How much can we take?What do we do? Where do we go to find refuge, solace, healing, a way forward?
How will we open our heartsto each otherin a country where half the voters are in lovewith their hating
of people like me: like for instance:women they can’t own, or men who can
love other men,or those who belong to other culturespart of Humanity’s far flung treasure… (p. 17)
Depth psychologists, spiritual leaders and healers of all kinds strive to help heal the World Soul, one psyche at a time.And artists make art. Out of the spirit of the depths, they engage with the spirit of the times in a way that anchors us, expressing our suffering and our light. (p. 1)
In our pact never to forgetthe momentum of lossis greater. Have our night–vanishing grandparentsopened the door for dreamsand days and meals and adventures sweetened by ourkinship to this family of ghosts? (p. 47)
In spring, chestnut flowerslike ghostly candelabralit her days, as they did minenot much distance west, acrossthe channel…For her, the tree beyond her graspstood achingly alive, dear daily reminderof leaf–birth,
leaf fall… (p. 52)
|Flowering Chestnut tree|
If you visit Van Gogh’s gravego after the gust of summer…The quaintness of the placeso placid you can imaginestanding at Vincent’s burialthat July midisurrounded by lemon sunflowersbattered dahliasHallelujahs oozingfrom their thousands ofamber throats…(pp. 41-2)
For the past fifteen years, here at the San Francisco C.G. Jung Institute, something extraordinary has been quietly unfolding. Poetry editor Frances Hatfield provides the origin story of the poems you will read: “At the instigation of Naomi Ruth Lowinsky’s “Sister from Below,” poets, nascent poets, and poetry lovers have gathered in the library of the Gough Street building…each month, immersed in the ghosts and spirits and deep soul of that holy place, and cooking together in the power of mythopoesis to express grief, beauty and love. Out of that profound communitas, a group of poets emerged who call themselves, aptly, the ‘Deep River Poets.’ This issue’s poetry section features a selection from a new book they have published as an offering to the institute and to the Extended Education program under which they have met. One can sense how these nine poets nourished each other as their voices of witness, grief, praise, awe and exuberance emerged in the presence of great poets, considered in the light of our extraordinary times. (p.3)
|Slave Ship: Wood Engraving by Smyth|
Lord, how long shall the wicked,How long shall the wicked exult?They gush out, they speak arrogancy;All the workers of iniquity bear themselves loftily.They crush Thy people, O Lord,And afflict Thy heritage.They slay the widow and the stranger,And murder the fatherless…
|Amanda Gorman at Inauguration|
And then it struck me: Maybe being brave enough doesn’t mean lessening my fear but listening to it. I closed my eyes in bed and let myself utter all the leviathans that scared me, both monstrous and miniscule. What stood out most of all was the worry that I’d spend the rest of my life wondering what this poem might have achieved. There was only one way to find out.
The poet’s diagnosis is that what we have livedHas already warped itself into a fever dream,The contours of its shape stripped from the murky mind.To be accountable we must render an account:Not what was said, but what was meant.Not the fact, but what was felt.What was known, even while unnamed.Our greatest test will beOur testimony.This book is a message in a bottle.This book is a letter.This book does not let up.This book is awake.This book is a wake.For what is a record but a reckoning?The capsule captured?A repository.An ark articulated?& the poet, the preserverOf ghosts & gains,Our demons & dreams,Our haunts & hopes.Here’s to the preservationOf a light so terrible.from Call Us What We Carry, “Ship’s Manifest.”
|Miniature from Hafiz-i Abru’s Majma al-tawarikh|