After the terrorist attacks of September 9, 2011, the citizens of Providence responded by making art. The process of creative expression served to offer children, teens and adults a way to express feelings and seek healing,
Thousands of these tiles line the walls of an inspiring tunnel between Union Station Square and the Water Park– a passageway for citizens to journey collectively from light to darkness to light, from despair to hope, and perhaps someday, from fear of war and violence, into secure peace, inspired by trust.
And so we who are creative, keep making something of our losses and our hopes. Dance. Embrace. Sing. Sculpt. Build the transition from despair to hope. Call for the flute, the violin, and the drum. Kindle the candle, join hands. Build community. Hope.
As I said in my last post, sometimes I need poetry to speak to me and for me. But in the throes of tragedy, I am silent.
Here’s a poem I wrote in 1992, long enough after I suffered a heart-wrenching loss that words had returned to me. This is one of those times when a poem from the past will have to be my voice in the present.
1777, When She Stitched the Flag
It was more like this, I imagine–
she waited too long for word from the son
who had marched off with the easy optimism
of men concerned only with ideas.
His heartbeat echoed in her soul when she knew
he was dead. And the howl
that can never be voiced worked its way
through her blood to her fingers. She chose
some fabric: cut muslin from his christening gown;
blue from the dress she wore when his father
courted her; and then something red.
She sat on her porch, rocking and stitching
and humming to herself (the neighbors thought)
but it was no tune. It was the mourning voice
that knows no language.
My grandmother taught me the value of stitching,
piecing scraps into blankets. Sometimes
the waiting days are so endless, tears
so familiar they are meaningless, there is
simply nothing else to do. You carefully
select the fabric, thread the needle, place
the thimble on the finger of your hand, and
you make something.
What are you compelled or inspired to make after grief?