Perie Longo, a licensed marriage and family therapist and registered poetry therapist in Santa Barbara wrote poems about her husband Phil’s struggle with leukemia. After he died, Perie’s poems were published in the book,
With Nothing Behind but sky: a journey through grief. I chose to include the following poem in this blog (with permission from the author) because I have read it many many times and it is still new and profound to me.
I think that writing poetry is a very powerful tool in working with grief. The last stanza of this poem points to the ways that a poem can lead us towards wisdom and truth in the midst of heartbreak.
While Watching A Video of the Dalai Lama
Everything I see or hear is about him
since he has been gone.
This morning, the Dalai Lama
says there is so much suffering
in the world he can’t do much.
With his monks he sifts colored sand
into an intricate design for peace,
then sweeps it away. They collect
the remains in a small jar, sprinkle a little
on top of their heads for tranquility.
While I held my husband in my hands
as ash, like finest sand,
all the hard edges of us disappeared
with the smoke. I rubbed him on my skin
then flew him into light.
Such tragedy! how it takes death
to put everything in its right place,
how it takes death to perfect a life.
Perie Longo 8/01