POEM: Laundered Hearts

Laundered Hearts

On those journeys
Through dark
Ending only
With mourning
Finding yourself
With a ponderous God
Separating darks and lights
Threatened by grays
Hanging on by hairs and threads
Washed out
The new borne
With blues and pinks
Fresh attitudes
So nigh eve
A tough pill to swallow
That great beyond
Slipping passed
The Adam’s apple
Impassable to unknow
So stern the guardin’
A name
So hollowed
The coming reign
For given trespasses
Daily bred
On earth
As it is in heavin’
Temptations so waited
As lead
Into deliverance
Lying in stork contrast
Crying at the drop
Of a feather
Sticking together
Amidst the tears
In the veil
Throbbing us
Of our temple
Our hearts beat back
What mourning brings
Is new dawnings
For those following the light
For light penetrates the dark
And we fear not vice verse
Burnishing us for all time
With laundered hearts

It seems that death and mourning has been on my heart recently.  After a long hospice experience with a friend, I received notice that my Dad’s ex-partner’s Mom just died.  I knew that he had a long slog of it.  My note to him triggered this poem.

Like most of my poems, this poem explores both the dark and light side of our experiences.  Death is an epic theme that frames and molds how we approach life.  Mourning is an essential developmental skill to navigate life.  There is much to mourn in the world — some distant, some nearby.  Eventually, death will close in on us.  None escape.

To bring this poem down to everyday reality, I use the metaphor of laundry.  This can represent the routine tasks that we must continue even if we are in deep mourning.  Sometimes this can reconnect us to our everyday living. “Laundered” can also imply an illegitimate, sleazy, or illegal process, such as in “laundering money.”  Both of these images can converge into being put through the wringer.  The real question is what comes out the other side.  Hopefully, something stronger and deeper, even cleaner, more pure.

I have also built into this poem the contrast, “the stork contrast,” between death and new life, newborns: the blues and pinks.  Those with more life experience know that such youth possesses certain naive qualities as well as a refreshing aspect to life.  Death puts these in sharp contrast.  Hopefully, this stark contrast imbues life with all the more preciousness.  My deepest trust and faith is that life is larger than death, more powerful than death, and even death can strengthen life.  In this poem, this is captured by the allusion to light penetrating dark but dark being unable to dispel light.

When death rubs up to you, may you be burnished, polished, and come out with a cleaner and brighter heart on the other side.

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