Poetry: How the Soul Speaks

We cried in church all morning on Sunday and no one wanted to leave. Outside it was cold and snowy and someone we love had passed through that thin veil to see Jesus in the night. We have been waiting for her to go but no one thought it would happen so soon and I can’t seem to write or run or concentrate on much this week. Going to work gives the relief of putting my mind elsewhere and when a patient tells me he likes to read poetry I make a mental note to bring some in for him. So the next day I do.
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, I say. So I thought you might enjoy this.
I place the book that my friend gave me for Christmas last year on the table in front of him.
He sits up straight and the way he touches that book makes my heart beat faster. But it is the look on his face—such surprise—that tells me he is touching a part of himself. He lifts the cover of the thing and runs his hand down one smooth page and he looks up at me and I know. I know he is remembering who he is.
It gives me such delight to surprise him this way because who would expect to find poetry here? Who can find beauty between these dim walls—in the midst of the pain and the struggle of recovering from brain surgery?
So he tells me the story of how he fell in love with books. It starts with a teacher—as they so often do—and how she told him when he was a boy, when you read the words of another you are getting the chance to glimpse into their soul.
Her words were the flint to his heart-fire and he began a life-long love affair.
And poetry, he said. Poetry is the language of the soul.
I carry his words with me and he doesn’t know what a gift he’s given me.
Poetry is the language of the soul.
I close my eyes and let my soul speak.
donned love
like skin and the
clear strains of
laughter were your
music. oh, the way
you swayed—knee-deep
in the joy-giggles…
wading around in
I-cried. courage
is the way you
kept breathing—your
heart pulsing life—
filling up the space
all these years; not
a labor…a dance.
I don’t
want to press
your memory
between two
panes of glass—
a faded picture,
brittle rose, lucky
clover between the
pages of a book…
color drained and
stale as cardboard.I
will remember—
your heart a cathedral,
the lift of walking
the way
you loved has
cast a long
shadow—a purple-
hued path for us
to follow; learning
from your ways
long after you’ve gone,
we wind along the cool
shade of your silhouette
until we find our way
back to you.


  1. says

    “..when you read the words of another you are getting the chance to glimpse into their soul..” And, of course, that is what you have given us here, Laura…a glimpse into the depths of your beautiful soul.

    Stunningly beautiful.

  2. Kendal Privette says

    when i summarize a poem for my students, you know, in ordinary language, they look kind of shocked. hurt, even. 🙂

  3. smoothstones says

    I love you so, and I could feel in this poem the way you’d been all bunched and bawled up (that lump in your throat), and how the words, in their release, eased the pain.

  4. Pam says

    Even when you expect it, this kind of loss still holds grief. I’m sorry for your loss… and blessed by your sharing of this book and the words of this gentleman. I looked at the book – it looks like a charmer! I love the whole idea of it and will have to look for it. Your words touch me – a window into your soul, Laura.

  5. Hazel Moon says

    Death stings and hurts no matter how prepared you think you are. If they are a believer you know they are with Jesus, so go ahead and weep, but only for a short while. Then wipe your tears and rejoice for they are in a better place.

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