Instructions on Not Giving Up

The Spirit gave me this poem this morning. Knew I needed these instructions. I sense hopelessness, pain and sorrow in those around me, human and nonhuman. And the temptation to give up.

Each day, hour, minute brings more trauma. I have learned about intergenerational trauma. Traumas of my ancestors have been passed to me. Just now it comes to me, can we break this cycle of trauma? Wouldn’t we rejoice if we could prevent this harm from infecting our children? Perhaps it is only if we give up that the trauma is passed on. These instructions on not giving up might tell us how to stop the transfer of our trauma.

Fortunately it is not only trauma that is passed from one generation to the next.

I am the holy being of my mother’s prayer and my father’s song.

Norman Patrick Brown, Dineh poet and speaker

Instructions on Not Giving Up

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out

of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s

almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving

their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate

sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees

that really gets to me. When all the shock of white

and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave

the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,

the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin

growing over whatever winter did to us, a return

to the strange idea of continuous living despite

the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,

I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf

unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

Copyright Ada Limon

It was a hard winter. My whole body raged against it. But right as the world feels uninhabitable, something miraculous happens: the trees come back. I wanted to praise that ordinary thing as a way of bringing myself back too. Ada Limon

I have been told the trees talk to each other through the network of their roots. Signal to each other when it is time to bloom. I watch for this to happen. Record the images with my camera. I say to some, you are a late bloomer.


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