Writing about my experiences... gave me new perspectives and skills. ~ Lisa A. Bertsch
Poet Lisa A. Bertsch regards creative expression as a devotional activity. She sings in The Schola Cantorum of Santa Fe, which specializes in sacred a cappella music and is a certified yoga teacher with training in adaptive and trauma-sensitive yoga. Lisa resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Lisa is author of "Grace Leads, I Follow; Poems of Trauma and Transformation", which houses the collection of the poems above. Visit www.lisaannmoore.com for more about Lisa. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writing about my experiences gave me new perspectives and subsequently skills that allowed me to approach my life in more conscious, effective ways.
The light shines
Hot and mean on my skin.
My eyes dart
A comfortable hole
To slink back into
To neatly wedge myself within
Where I can become as cool and calcified as inert stone.
Finding no refuge
From this grace
I quake in the beating light
In its permeating presence
I grow still
Allowing the light to flood my being.
My life as a poet began at the age of twenty-four when I fell fifteen feet through a warehouse floor, sustaining a spinal burst fracture which impinged upon 60% of my spinal cord. Although I required major surgery to stabilize and protect my spinal cord, I was surprisingly lucky. Relatively quickly I would sit up, walk, get back to yoga and over time pick up the pieces of my life and get back to my values, plans, hopes and dreams.
And once-treasured things
Lie rusting in the swamp.
Acres of lowlands
Scattered with desires
Deep scent of decay floats on the lazy breeze.
No life left here--
Only shells and skeletons
Slithering with snakes.
Thick slime concealing
The lustrous finish of belongings once residing in the heart
Now banished in anger
Tossed in with the dented and dinge
And old car parts.
A halfhearted drizzle turns to rhythmic sheets of rain
Filling the broken porcelain claw-foot tub perched on the hilltop
Bathed in a solitary beam of light.
The enamel returns
Polished by remembrances of these once-treasured things.
Scavenge and hunt
Dust off your lost dreams.
Allow them to rise
From the heaps
And reside in the heart yet again.
Yoga led my recovery as I worked to re-embody not only my physical self, but also every aspect of myself. In this process I began to see that despite my lucky break, ceaseless effort, and tremendous progress the injury would forever affect my daily life. I would continually work to balance energy, health, work, socialization, relationships, and not to mention my internal experience. I struggled more than I anticipated in my youthful optimism.
O mountain, what am I to do?
Why do you just stand there while my heart breaks?
Don't you feel the tremors as I do?
Is there no sympathy within you for my human frailty?
In your presence I feel translucent.
I've come to you for solac
But you don't see me here, kneeling in my smallness.
The sunlight washes me away.
Over time I worked to digest this reality, figure out how to work with it as productively as possible and manage the cacophony of thoughts, emotions, sensations, and unknowns I faced. My reality had been turned upside down. I was uprooted. It was completely devastating and unexpectedly freeing. In the face of this hardship came immeasurable joys and poetry rose within me.
The Crack in Reality
So sure of what is real--
Blue is blue
And land is firm--
We build walls
With definitions and names
Obscuring the horizon
The fertile beyond
The place of our inception and destiny.
Find the crack in reality
The definition that defies known laws
Where yellow is blue
And land is light as air.
I began to collect words and phrases that came to me. When they emerged they felt powerful and effortless, eventually becoming poems. Writing about my experiences gave me new perspectives and subsequently skills that allowed me to approach my life in more conscious, effective ways. In putting experiences that I thought were very specific to me into words, I saw that they were universal experiences that knit me tightly in humanity's story at a time when I felt very separated.
Additionally, I began to notice that when I converted strictly physical sensations into words they by nature became metaphorical. During my morning yoga practice images and poems often bubbled up as felt sensations. I became less frustrated and ruled by difficult experiences if I were able to transform it into something tangible. Over time I saw patterns and links between poetry and my embodied experience and learned that they were part if an indivisible whole.
Although the arts were always a major part of my life, at this time they seemed to emerge rather instinctually, in a way that felt very related to wellbeing and even survival. They seemed to become a necessity. My exploration in using poetry and embodiment as a means for healing in my life and in the lives of others began to take form.
Where there was only clouded vision
Which grew to timid steps
Lighting the path upward-
Now dancing the dance
Grace leads, I follow.
With her hand
I attempt a dance
Than I imagined possible
In my mere humanness.