Welcome to Day 1 of 31 Days of Kissing the Wounds, a month of posts about the beauty, longing, and soul inherent in our damaged selves; in the world’s brokenness; in the imperfection, incompleteness, and transience of all that we love; in our recognition of each other as the walking wounded; and in the jagged, messy, splintery, deformed, sullied, unhealed parts of me, you, the natural world, our communities, the culture. Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others.
In my 31-Days series last year, on A Sense of Place, I wrote a post called Damage Done, which began with this exquisite poem by Adam Zagajewski:
Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
This poem will set the tenor for the series this fall.
This poem, with its tender, sweet acknowledgement that we’re not really OK: that the world is mutilated, the earth is scarred; we find ourselves in exile, homeless, lost, watchful and anxious; prey to death-dealers, and in fact perhaps complicit with them, doing nothing to stop them; uneasy in an unequal and unjust society.
This poem, with its modest yet insistent response, to praise anyway the beauty, to remember and return in our hearts, heads, and bodies to music, softness, intimacy, the natural world of acorns, strawberries, leaves, feathers, thrushes, passing seasons.
As I said last year, something about damage and brokenness gets to me.
Animals, of course, and trees, landscapes, places.
Exiles and refugees of any sort. Outsiders. Unhappy insiders. The scapegoated and the scapegoating.
Decay. When it all falls apart.
Gaping wounds and internal bleeding.
Scars, calluses, adhesions, limps: the sort of mortal healing that leaves a mark, that protects by covering softness with hardness.
All that’s broken and can’t be repaired without leaving a reminder of its brokenness.
Places in ruins, wrecked by time, weather, vines, air, us.
The imperfect, the incomplete, the inadequate, the unclean, the impure.
Regrets, loss, making a mess of things, denying we’re broken, pretending we’re OK.
We — humans, animals, plants — are so fragile, so mortal, so mistake-prone, so alone on a tiny island in a dark universe, monsters around us and within us, and we live in the midst of all this wearying, worrying shambles so valiantly, so bravely. It’s good, I think, to remember to praise life, and to give in to the urge — the urge parents and children alike feel when someone has a boo-boo — to kiss the wounds of the earth, each other, ourselves.
Thanks for checking in. Be sure to see what the other 31 Dayers are writing about.