I had another poem all ready to go this morning. Then I got a text from a distant city where someone I love lives: “Went to the tree lighting last night but the crowd was so huge that we got afraid of being in the middle of it so we watched from afar.” This text and the following one, “Avoiding crowds at all costs,” felt like the capper to a hard week of hard news. So I turned to my file of comfort-poems, like The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry, like Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye, like To My Young Friends Who Are Afraid by William Stafford, but none of them felt right. Then I read this one, by Rebecca Foust, and it struck the right chord. Poem of the Week.
– Rebecca Foust
Some things we believe cannot be redeemed.
But in a valley the Railroad finally forgot,
the silted, slugged ditch we would not eat fish from
runs again, a river, rilled as before
by clear water, not black. Grass grows back
between tracks and rails. Limestone spalls
hewn from the mountain heal into soil.
Stumps heaped with live coals, split, and winched out
in spring frail a new circlet of green.
Panthers are seen. A son is born blue, and lives.
Some things we believe cannot be redeemed,
but the dawn, as yet, is diurnal. The woods keep
a hushed vigil, then rustle with life we can’t see;
small ponds well from the ground while we sleep.
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