Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Breaking Point

Book: Hollow Out, Kelsea Habecker

Dealing with a relationship pulling apart while living in a small village in the Artic is the driving force behind Kelsea’s book, Hollow Out. Images of the Alaskan landscape fill her poems: whales throwing themselves onto rocky beaches to scrape barnacles off, tufts of hair on a caribou skeleton after wolves have moved on, and women collecting salmon berries that they will carefully dole out over the long winter.

Into a world where physical life is tenuous, Kelsea fights the cold and months of darkness and struggles to keep the relationship with her husband alive. Images from the natural world illustrate the parallel upheavals to her inner world. From “Bird That’s Come Home”:

You wrap yourself in a shell,
I fly to the shore to contemplate the churning
sea and the birds in it.  Gulls float the rough swells.
And even in the death-crack
of Artic winter the sturdiest birds remain.

But what about us?

Kelsea learns to trust her intuition to guide her, and we feel her move back and forth in the relationship like pack ice adjusting to each change in the sea, repeatedly trying to make the situation work before letting go.

When hope is faint and options are limited, Kelsea writes of the difficulty of find enough reasons to hang on. She also writes of something larger being present, and she only has to look out the window to be reminded of this. By facing the darkness (both literal and figurative), she comes to understand the resilience of hope.

She pays attention to the sounds of words. This is from “Cut, Then Chase”:  “they splinter and hitch away / the clutches of ice, carve / a road out of drifts and fragments.” From “Breaking Point”:

Breath becomes what we wade through
to get where we’re going
which is always inside
            and never far enough from ourselves.

Drawing on images from nature, Kelsea illuminates her personal struggle with images from a harsh environment, and the results are stunning. 

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