to let a poem save you by jeanette leblanc

to let a poem save you

someday you will come across a poem
and something about it will speak truth
even if you don't immediately know why
take note
you will need to keep this poem
tucked in your back pocket.

so when you find a poem like this
-and you'll know by the
chill that rises along your arms and travels
down your spine
the one that pulses truth
the one that says
this poem may one day be the
one thing that stands between you
and the siren song of the shadowlands –
when you find a poem like that
write it by hand on the prettiest paper
careful cursive, just like they taught you in grade school
fold it carefully
edges lined up with precision
make the crease lines just so.
take it out
every so often
even when everything
is perfect
and tomorrow looks like infinity
and you swear you will never
sleep alone again
but just in case
memorize the words
and the words between the words
you may need them again
quite likely, dear one, you will need them again
and again
on blue black nights at 3amcopy-of-you-are-not-alone
and the days when the sun has baked your bones dry and
still the rains won't come
and when the ground is too hard for rest
but not steady enough
to rise from
when you call and call and they do not come home.
when those days come
you won’t remember right away
so deep will you be in the sweet mess of grief
but eventually you will remember
and when you do
take the poem out of your back pocket
unfold it carefully
smooth the creases and lay it flat.
brush your hair and your teeth
maybe put on some lipstick
whatever it takes to
remember your beauty and worth
then take a breath
because even though it seems impossible
that a poem could have so much power
it is quite entirely possibly that
this poem will
remind you of truth
when heart and ego are wrecked and ruined
it will sustain you
when food loses it's lure and the air is so heavy
you stay in bed until noon.
this poem will be talisman and guide
on the journey back home to yourself.
so give it a chance
what is there to lose, anyway?
you have already lost it all, after all
you were holding so tightly and you lost, anyway
so go ahead
read it aloud
through your tears.
give it the cadence
that is the exact opposite
of the love song you don’t think
you’ll ever be able to hear again without crying
speak in in a voice that sounds nothing like the one you used to whisper her name
this is where you get your voice back
roll that poem around in your mouth
suck the letters between your teeth
blow them out like rings of smoke in winter air.
take them into your fists and throw them into the darkness
after all
there is a reason your body quivered
when you read this poem for the first time
there is a reason you listened to me
and took the time to write it out and
that you saved it for today
there is a reason you remembered to do this.
so dammit – read the poem.
put your whole being into that poem
breath and body and blood and guts and tears.
read it again
and again
let the refrain rise
until the truth of it is a light composed of syllables
until the light is a bullet proof vest made of words
until the bullet proof vest is enough to protect you from your own fury
until your fury becomes the vast heat of power
until the power lodges in your belly, red hot and burning true
and then, and only then
howl that poem at the night sky with every ounce
of fire you have ever known
call it back to you as if you own it
and then stop and breathe for a minute.
slow and steady.
and see if you don’t feel differently.

this is what it is
my bravely broken one
to let a poem save you.