Other Poems

The spokes of grief spin on the axis of hope

by Ken Sehested

These are most surely the days to trace the shape of
hope in the swirl of despair: to reassure children, to
encourage harried parents, to tip big-time, to speak out
loudly against vacuous leaders, to praise medical
professionals, to acknowledge teachers who are
working harder than ever (with exponentially less
notice), to celebrate cleaner air (a foretaste of what
could be if together we were to rigger the needed will
for weaning from fossil fuels). And on and on. (Add here
your nominees for concerted public attention.)

Nevertheless, do not forsake the labor of lament, of
public rituals naming the anguish, of the singing of sad
songs. The very spokes of grief spin on the axis of hope.
No one grieves aloud except for the deep down
awareness that life has come off the rails of gracious
accord, of promised bounty, and the practice of
neighborliness embedded in our DNA.

Only the silenced bear the weight of hushed
abandonment. So pay attention to the silence, not the
noise. This is where you are needed. Ask permission to
come alongside their discomfort. Be a parable of shelter
and comfort; let the taste of salt fill your mouth as you
regard their tears; shine light on their circumstances;
champion their fate.

The road to Heaven is trod in the company of silenced
companions and strangers unaware. Only on such
journeys are hearts aligned in tune with Everlasting
rapport, its gates swung wide, with the sound of festal
procession and Joy’s consummation.

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©ken sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org
Written as a prayer of mourning over my mother’s recent passing; and in intercession for one of my favorite poets, John Prine—among countless others—whose lives have been cut short by the pandemic’s vicious pulse. Listen to his recording of “Hello In There”.