Thursday, August 8, 2013

*At the end of my suffering, there was a door


Many, many years ago, long before this light came into my life (in many ways, not just by virtue of reuniting with G or bringing E home), a dear friend and then therapist opened a battered and much loved book of poetry by Gluck and had me read this poem, The Wild Iris. As a lover of the written word, and in particular, poetry, this introduction to delving into the root of my own suffering was unparalleled. But then, there is no match for one as gifted as my (now) friend H. He broke molds, including my own, and it is because of him that I have my being, full and well, scarred and renewed.

I think this is true for our daughter as well. There are countless doors she will and has passed through, all of them transforming her and us as we journey together. This poem is a testament to her many (and often excruciating) beginnings- from the womb into breathing life, born yet again to a nanny that was a mother to her, and born yet again to us, her adoptive parents. And each time, a departure that leaves a void incapable of being described. A primal wound, an unimaginable loss. She is, in a word, a hero in her own right. And that's nothing to do with the chair, or her physical challenges, but everything to do with her incredible spirit, her "though she be but little, she is fierce" soul.

I hold this poem close to my heart. I hold her closer.

The Wild Iris, by Louise Gluck

At the end of my suffering
there was a door.

Hear me out: that which you call death
I remember.

Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.

It is terrible to survive
as consciousness
buried in the dark earth.

Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.

You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:

from the center of my life
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure seawater.


  1. Beautiful insightful post. I love you and yours.

  2. Beautiful poem. I must admit to never having heard of the author, but that takes nothing away from what the poem says.

    The metaphorical use of the iris reminded me of this letter written by C.S. Lewis.

    "Think of yourself just as a seed patiently waiting in the earth: waiting to come up a flower in the Gardener’s good time, up into the real world, the real waking. I suppose that our whole present life, looked back on from there, will seem only a drowsy half-waking. We are here in the land of dreams. But cock-crow is coming. It is nearer now than when I began this letter."