Sunday, April 24, 2022

Poem of the Month: The Odyssey

I’m posting this poem here today without much commentary. I wrote it after coming out of a certain calamity a number of years ago, and now it feels to me that it applies again as we are emerging from the pandemic. I had my own ordeals with the pandemic and as I write this, I find myself feeling the need to make sure that I let everyone know that I am fully aware that my pain was nowhere close to the pain others suffered, that my calamities and griefs and losses were minor in comparison to so many who went through much worse than I did. And all of that being true doesn’t change what I experienced or make it less painful retroactively. I’m telling you this so that you can remember it for yourself as well.

The Odyssey 


This is the year I swam

length by length back into my body.

I swam with smooth sinuous strokes and tireless limbs.

I swam without

faith, or a way to mark time. I swam in the

void the sea swallowed whole. I swam in soundless

solitary, stupefying, terrible and swift.

Now I rise like a heron in the midnight pond.

My spine is infinite, my bones divine.

Upon re-entry, I find my flesh

intact. It is worshipful, this vessel. Its

storm of neurons, its earthen feet, the prayer of my hips, my

heart’s cauldron. My ribs engorged with grief. My belly a safe house.

I shocked the clocks into obedience. In time, I will rise and

rise again,

come to rest in this spawning ground.

--Kristen McHenry

2 comments: said...

Beautiful words, exquisite vocabulary! :--)

Dale said...

Damn. "All I can say, sir, is that if I could string words together that way, I'd call myself a poet."

That's a really lovely poem.

(And really, holding up one suffering against another, like paint swatches: is this one brighter than that? ... that can't be what we're meant to do.)