Inspiration Point - Special Issue

April 2007      
      To the Community  

Bluffton: 2 March 2007
Susan Carpenter  

            The last day before spring break, and there was time in the morning to do nothing but drink coffee and watch the sun climb up, liquid gold blobs through bare branches, toward the sky which promised to be blue. March had begun; the snow was gone except for a few piles of dirty ice. The creek ran full of caramel-brown water.

            Near the library I met Kathy Dickson – we’re celebrating women’s voices at a reception on the thirteenth, I said; would you read a few of your poems?
           She smiled, pleased to be invited. Oh, Susan, I guess you didn’t know. The edges of her eyes blurred as she held up the sign: classes cancelled. Prayer gathering in Founders. 10:00.
           One minute ago the day had been carefully scheduled. Now: a blank.

On the third floor of Centennial, Megan, with wet-clotted eyes, talked with Lynda, who’d started class at 8:00 am, knew something was wrong, couldn’t figure it out until a student told her. Megan searched the internet and found a photo of the bus lying on its side with its windows smashed. Lynda searched her email for the list of baseball players – young men who were supposed to live forever.

On Megan’s computer screen we could see that some were being loaded on to stretchers, some still pulling each other out through the jagged-edge windows. Who?


After Great Pain
Emily Dickinson

After great pain, a formal feeling comes—
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or centuries before?

The feet, mechanical, go round—
of Ground, or Air, or Ought—
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone—

This is the Hour of Lead—
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow—
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –  

An Infectious Smile 
Amy Purkey

A smile. A huge, quirky smile. Even if you did not personally know David Joseph Betts, you probably have seen his crooked smile sometime on the sidewalk going to class or while eating in Marbeck. His smile was infectious and when anyone around him saw the smile, they too, had to smile and laugh. My day always consisted of seeing David’s beautiful smile and even if I was in a bad mood that day, my face would brighten and a huge grin would come over my face.

Out, Out 
Robert Frost

The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.

Funeral Blues
W.H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.  











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 In memoriam

            Once, a scientist suspended a kitten in mid-air, trying to prove something about walking and thinking. My thoughts were like that kitten – soft, disoriented, flailing its legs but not going anywhere. I had an exam to write. There was no way to write the exam. There was a prayer meeting at ten. We pinned ourselves to ten o’clock.

I  found the beginning of C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed:

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing." – C.S. LewIS

Swallowing, I wrote emails to my classes.

            Hundreds gathered in Founders at ten o’clock, sitting thigh-to-thigh in the bleachers, waiting. Randy Keeler’s prayer was brief and apt. Then he gave us silence – and into that silence came a sniffle. Then another. Then one more. They came one at a time, each moist gasp distinct, across and around the room, like raindrops breaking through. Love these people, God said. It’s easy.

What I Know about Melancholy
Jeff Gundy

Never seen the quarry so high. Still frozen, the ice thick
but cracked, puddled, tempting. I know better
but I love to imagine being reckless.



Vachel Lindsay

Each storm-soaked flower has a beautiful eye.
And this is the voice of the stone-cold sky:
“Only the boys keep their cheeks dry.
Only the boys afraid to cry.
Men thank God for tears
Alone with the memory of their dead,
Alone with lost years.”

Rolf Jacobsen

What sower walked over earth,
Which hands sowed
Our inward seeds of fire?
They went out from his fists like rainbow curves
To frozen earth, young loam, hot sand, They will sleep there

Against Consolation

Robert Cording

The lecturer is talking
about Weil’s essay on “Detachment.”
The scent of lilacs
intoxicates the air inside the room,

The Buck in Snow
Edna St. Vincent Millay

White sky, over the hemlocks bowed with snow,
Saw you not at the beginning of evening the antlered buck and his doe
Standing in the apple orchard? I saw them. I saw them suddenly go,
Tails up, with long leaps lovely and slow,
Over the stone wall into the wood of hemlocks bowed with snow.  


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Inspiration Point


 March 2, 2007


            Later I put C.S. Lewis on my office door, and then I hunted for Emily Dickinson, who has much to teach us about grief. I remembered moments when grief broke through – once with Frost’s “Out, Out,” and once with Auden’s near-maudlin “Funeral Blues.” And because this is the English department, the other faculty thought of poems, too. And Pam Nath emailed one from New Orleans. And some of the students began to write.
           Reading and writing about loss and grief is a time-honored way to get through. One of the things writing is for is to help us through grief and loss.

            Slowly we gathered this collection. The first wave of mourning has engulfed us and then retreated again, but we’ve learned it is only the first wave. So here we share some of the words that helped us return our paws to the ground, take one step forward, then another.

           We invite you to read – and to write, and share what you’ve written. Take in what others write, breathe out your own words. This is one way to keep loving each other

Shannon McKeehen

"I don't know why we're making such
a big deal," he said Monday, his gray
baseball cap a cloud covering his fear.
We left in bunches, our eyes tracing
the lines in the carpet.
Gray lines.

Amy Purkey

Purple ribbons, baseball games
Second base, Number 4
Guitars, ping-pong:
Reminders of you

The Origins of Baseball
Kenneth Patchen

Someone had been walking in and out
Of the world without coming
To much decision about anything.
The sun seemed too hot most of the time.
There weren’t enough birds around

Elegy with Matchbox Bus and Andromeda - for the seven dead in Atlanta, March 2007 
Jeff Gundy

To get there I drove two hours through rain and storm to Detroit,
waited in the crowds to get on the plane, waited on the plane and flew
through thunder, everything bumpy and slow, got in two hours late.


Interested in baseball poems? click below 

Baseball Almanac

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Walking with Grief
George MacDonald

Do not hurry

as you walk with grief;

it does not help the journey.


Walk slowly, pausing often:

do not hurry

as you walk with grief.  



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