I am writing here to my students. But even if you and I have never shared a workshop, class, time together with poetry, you are welcome to read it as well:
Dear students, you who created my life,
As I have been making my way through the aftermath of the election, I realized again what we created together and what I, and maybe some of you, understandably took for granted — not blithely — but because we created a world where we delighted in our differences.
I had one “social rule” — prevent in any way a fellow student’s ability to be authentic in vision and voice, even with so much as an eye roll, and I will ask you to leave the class and not return. You all welcomed that “regulation,” that way of making our little place safe for everyone to, well, to be.
And now each of you will spend your days with a “Leader of the Free World” whose cruelty would laugh at our care for one another. You took us beyond tolerance, beyond the condescension of acceptance. You never thought about anything but the richness of being with those who were not like you. And our souls opened and welcomed, celebrated and danced, felt the unity of grief and the unifying joy of seeing the world through the hearts of those we were with.
As daughter Mimi taught us, “with” is the most important word in the world. We are always “with.” Cruelty destroys every way of being with. It may now take its place in the land’s highest office.
But in our memories of being with one another, and in each day ahead, we will still be with, we will always be with, with one another and with all those who, on Wednesday morning, woke in fear, shame, humiliation, grief, despair, and rabid uncertainty. And woke, too, with the understanding that lovingkindness can be overruled and out-voted.
But it can never be overcome. Thank you.
Tonight I know more overwhelmingly than ever before what you created. And I know also that you have since then, every day, created places where those you are with are able to be who they truly are.
As I sat down to write to you, in came this message. Yes, this message came just as I was walking to the computer! From one of my friends, a student long ago:
I hope you are well. Thinking of you today and grateful that on days like today when I can’t make sense of my world, I can turn to poetry to at least look at it from another lens.
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Love to you,