People who think poetry has no power have a very limited understanding of what power means.–Christian Wiman
If you look up power in the dictionary, the definitions revolve around influence and control, as in the power to make people do what you want. If you look at the way we talk about power these days, it seems almost synonymous with force, as in do unto others before they do unto you, which leads us to things like preemptive strikes and redemptive violence.
A nation based on power cannibalizes itself, intimately, because power, when construed as force or violence, destroys. It is never a solution. Violence breeds more violence. Brazen power is not a path to peace. Just because I can force you to sit down and shut up doesn’t mean I have made the world more peaceful. I have only planted the seeds of revolution.
But there’s another way to plant–that’s the power the poets know.
If you look up poet in the dictionary, it says, “a person possessing special powers of imagination or expression.” I love the word imagination because it is family to image, as in image of God, which is us. We are created in the image of God; we were birthed out of the imagination of God. Talk about special powers.
I am going to let the poet Tara Sophia Mohr say it in her words.
Your Other Name
If your life doesn’t often make you feel
like a cauldron of swirling light —
If you are not often enough a woman standing above a mysterious fire,
lifting her head to the sky —
You are doing too much, and listening too little.
Read poems. Walk in the woods. Make slow art.
Tie a rope around your heart, be led by it off the plank,
You are no animal. You are galaxy with skin.
Home to blue and yellow lightshots,
making speed-of-light curves and racecar turns,
bouncing in ricochet –
Don’t slow down the light and turn it into matter
with feeble preoccupations.
Don’t forget your true name:
Presiding one. Home for the gleaming. Strong cauldron for the feast of light.
Strong cauldron for the feast of light:
I am speaking to you.
I beg you not to forget.
I’ve got more words, some I’ve read and some I’ve written, but let’s rest here and keep begging each other not to forget who we are:
Home for the gleaming. Feast of light. Image of God.