Leaving Things Behind–for Ukraine

Happy Poetry Friday! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)

First up, if you’re an educator, please check out my template for writing a “We Belong” poem, which I shared a few days ago. :>)

Now…the week before last, my husband and I took a staycation–unplugging from work and news and doing things we loved all week. What an unbelievable privilege that is in a world where so many never get a break from work or can’t even work safely. News of the continued attack on Ukraine has been in my thoughts a lot. Those images of people–people just like you and me–whose lives have been turned upside down, who find themselves fleeing their homes with only what they can carry…But I know I can’t sink too deeply into focusing on that or I lose my own ability to live the one life I’m lucky to have. So, besides making a donation and voting in ways that support peace and democracy, what else can I do? Novelist Maxine Hong Kingston’s quote in Word for the Day last weekend was: “In a time of destruction, create something: a poem, a parade, a community, a school, a vow, a moral principle; one peaceful moment.”

Create–that’s almost always the answer. It’s the opposite of destroy.

Before I share my poem, here’s a snap of the wonderful packet of goodies that arrived from Michelle Kogan’s Etsy shop yesterday! Isn’t this a gorgeous array? I love all of it, but those PEACE bookmarks feel especially needed today.

I’m resharing this poem I wrote years ago, inspired by the Syrian refugee crisis. It’s a golden shovel poem using a line from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty.”

Leaving Things Behind - Golden Shovel Poem

If you’re interested, you can read more poems inspired by refugees and asylum-seekers here.

And for lots of wonderful poetry, don’t miss the Poetry Friday Roundup with lovely teacher-poet-human Ruth!

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16 Responses

  1. I am having.a hard time thinking about the senseless death and destruction. I like the idea of turning to creativity.

  2. Create–“one peaceful moment,” Yes, and watch it ripple… Your poem has such a powerful closing line Laura, “Dreams of flying free on borrowed wings.” And, “hungry and hollow” really pulls at your heart. Thanks for this sensitive poem. And many appreciations for sharing the bookmarks and cards, and a link to my shop!

  3. Thanks for sharing this poignant poem, and for reminding us that “create” is the opposite of destroy. It’s certainly something to hang onto.

  4. I love the idea that it can be an achievement to create one peaceful moment. And anybody can do that! Your poem breaks my heart. May every refugee find some borrowed wings in this time of need. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

  5. Creativity has helped me, too, lately. Such a sweet little child in the photo in tragic circumstances. I just received your new picture book and plan to review it soon. Such a timely book.

    1. Aw, thanks, Janice! Creativity helps us all in times of need. Whether it’s medical stuff, family crises, or world woes, poetry and art are always there for us. Hugs to you!

  6. Your poem is heartbreakingly beautiful. Thank you for the reminder that creation is the opposite of destruction. I’m all in.

  7. I wish I could send some “borrowed wings” to all those suffering in Ukraine & where they’ve landed, Laura. This is a sentiment to remember.

  8. Leaving Things Behind is haunting in its depiction of a child’s (or anyone’s) experience of fleeing war. I am a fan of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poetry — they’re really prayers. It’s how I see the link from Pied Beauty (a prayer of praise) to your words — a prayer for those who seek safety. Thank you, Laura.

  9. “Create–that’s almost always the answer. It’s the opposite of destroy.’ Thank you for this. I’ve been struggling with that sense of despair at not being able to help more. I have been using my weekends for creating…it helps me feel better.

  10. There is so much sadness in this world that creating is a source of relief. Thanks for your beautiful poems and the hope that your poetry flies into the sky with thoughts of peace for Ukraine’s children. My little grandgirls and I have started offering short prayers for the children of the world. I am glad that you had a staycation and received such an amazing package from Michelle.

  11. Laura, thank you for sharing the We Belong template for those of us who missed it. It’s lovely. Your post is full of hope and life. Thank you for sharing your poem again. “Dreams of flying free on borrowed wings” is really powerful.

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