Swaddling Love

By Claudia Ricci, Ph.D.


PROMPT — I am grateful for …

I AM GRATEFUL TODAY FOR

this poem, which is kind of an experiment,

You might call it MY NOSEDIVE

into expressive writing,

I’m desperate to see if 

I can finally stop fighting.

If I can surrender to 

my 

absolute 

terror

of the big D!

No No, not death

But DEPRESSION.

Can I use this writing to

SURRENDER? 

To yield up to divine power?

Right now

Write in this moment

I am determined to allow in

All the fear I’ve been

running away from

for so long.

All the sadness

I’ve tried to stuff under

The pillow of my heart.

LET THE FEAR COME

LET THE SADNESS TOO.

BUT DEAR GOD I CAN ONLY DO

IT BY REACHING INSIDE

MY HEART 

AND HITTING THE RESTART

BUTTON.  

TO SURRENDER I MUST BEGIN

LOVING MYSELF MORE AND MORE,

IN EVERY

MOMENT 

all day long

today and every day.


See me, looking out the window 

at the dark pewter sky 

that hovers over the bright green May meadow and

now hear me saying,

OK GOD BRING IT ON, BRING

ON THE DOWNPOUR

CRASH THE LIGHTNING OVER ME TOO IF YOU MUST

LET MY TEARS WASH OVER THE TREES

AND FLOWERS AND GRASS

AND BIRDS.


Before today, I really

THOUGHT IF I RAN FAST 

ENOUGH AND WROTE

LONG ENOUGH

Somehow I could keep

myself on such an even keel

or in some sort of Unreality

Show that I would not have

To ACTUALLY FACTUALLY

IN THE FLESH OF

DEAD FLOWERS

KNOW THE PAIN 

OF 

UTTER LOSS AND DESPERATION.

I’ve been working so

hard to deny it.

SADNESS. 

But now I know that

I can fight and fight and fight 

Morning noon and night

And 

I can write and write and write

a hundred thousand

novels

and 14 million poems

and still I must at

some point come home

to the death of joy

and laughter.


After eight weeks of isolation

I woke up TWO DAYS AGO when

I FELT DEEPLY DEEPLY LONELY.

Depressed, dammit, I vowed

I wouldn’t feel that suffering ever again.

But every time I imagine

hugging my children

warm to my bare breast

I FEEL DESPERATE

Every time I want 

to hold my grandchildren

on my lap

I get slapped with more

Bad news about the virus.

We won’t be normal

Again for a long long time. 

And so too does 

my unhappiness seem endless

and downright dangerous.

That’s why I am writing this poem

So that I can face it: 

I have to own my sadness.

The squeeze of the heart

And the gaping hole in the chest.

OH GOD IT IS RAINING NOW

I AM FEELING THE LIQUID PAIN

RUNNING UP AND DOWN

MY ARMS AND LEGS.

But I am also feeling a dribble

NO A WASH OF WARM LOVE

AND I CAN HEAR IT TOO.

I CAN FEEL LOVE WHISPERING

AND ROARING

IN MY EARS.

MY FEAR IS REAL BUT 

ALSO SWADDLED

BY

MY

HEART.


I have to go very slow

To KEEP THE LOVE 

CUDDLING THE

FEAR.

BUT I CAN DO THIS:

I CAN WRAP 

MY DESPERATION UP

I CAN

PLACE

IT

HERE

IN A 

GOLDEN

SHAWL

OF 

DIVINE

LIGHT AND LOVE.

FROM HEAVEN

ABOVE

AND EARTH

BELOW.

So here now

I am going VERY

VERY

SLOWLY

I am 

GOING 

TO 

STAY

IN 

THIS 

DIVINELY

SACRED

NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW

AH

SEE HOW NICE IT FEELS TO WRITE THAT!

SEE HOW NICE IT FEELS

TO FEEL THAT LOVE

EACH

AND

EVERY

MOMENT.

I VOW

NOW: 

I AM GOING

TO

FEEL

MORE 

AND

MORE

ENERGY

AND 

PRESENCE

AND

COMFORT.

I FEEL 

SOME

IN MY

FACE –

--SMILE –

I FEEL FLOODING

MY ARMS

MY 

LEGS

AND TOES

AND

ANKLES

AND

NECK

AND 

WRISTS

AND

EVEN THESE FINGERS.

WRITING THIS

EXPERIMENTAL POEM IS WORKING!

THE PAIN IS STILL COMING ROARING 

UP FROM MY 

MY ABDOMEN BUT SO IS THE LOVE.

AMEN!


LET THE NEXT POEM BE

ALL ABOUT THE VIOLET

FLAMES THE

PURELY PURPLE DIVINE

ENERGY THAT EMANATES

THROUGHOUT YOU AND

THE UNIVERSE.

You are going to focus

Your attention on your

Gut and imagine violet

Flames roaring up right

from

there below your 

belly button. Just as

Mary promised it,

Every bit of

Negativity will go up

In smoke. And you

Will breathe in the smoke

And breathe out clear air

And light and

Love for every single

Person in your family

And every human being

You’ve ever called friend

And even random strangers

HERE THERE AND EVERYWHERE

YOU ARE GOING TO

BROADCAST LOVE

TO THEM FROM EVERY ONE

ONE OF YOUR 

DIVINELY

INSPIRED 

CELLS.

I’m telling you now,

It’s all true.


Claudia Ricci, Ph.D. is a professional writer and editor who lives near Great Barrington, MA. She is the author of three novels, one of which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in numerous literary magazines nationwide. She spent fourteen years teaching literature at the University at Albany, SUNY and taught for a year at Georgetown University in 2009.

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