My group just had their final art/writing class today and I wasn’t with them. I won’t be at tonight‘s final dinner either. However, they’re going to have a closing circle outdoors for an hour in the late afternoon/early evening and I will try to make that.
I’m in my cozy cell/like room at the monastery in Santiago. I got up this morning, took a shower, went downstairs to get some breakfast, came back to my room and I’ve been sleeping ever since. I avoided the elevator so I wouldn’t be in an enclosed space with anyone. Walking back up two flights of stairs, I had to pause and wasn’t sure I could make it. Five days ago I walked 16 miles. What a humbling illness.
I feel like a flat tire with the flu.
One of my students here, Susan Cooley, just sent me this poem on WhatsApp, a favorite of hers and a long time favorite of mine. Now, finally, I’m crying.
by David Wagoner
The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost.
Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen.
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still.
The forest knows
Where you are.
You must let it find you.
On Facebook I asked people to support me, sick and sad in a foreign city, by posting a poem for me there. (Or just responding).
PS. There are some really amazing poems that were posted in the comments on my Facebook feed of this. I suggest you read them as well. I never thought I could continue sharing beautiful writing as sick as I am, but look—you’re all doing it for me!