When young, it was the first fall from love.
It broke me open the way lightning splits a tree.
Then, years later, cancer broke me further.
This time, it broke me wider the way a flood
carves the banks of a narrow stream.
Then, having to leave a twenty year marriage.
This broke me the way wind shatters glass.
Then, in Africa, it was the anonymous face
of a schoolboy beginning his life.
This broke me yet again. But this
was like hot water melting soap.
Each time I tried to close
what had been opened.
It was a reflex, natural enough.
But the lesson was, of course, the other way—
in never closing again.
For me this poem speaks of change and the mermaid’s call back to our old ways; the natural reflex to close what has been opened. The sometimes painful journey of learning how I can be different and how we can be different from this experience. Instead of closing chapters we hold space for them.
Where has your lesson been to keep open what you wanted to close away?