Don’t Think About That – a poem of motherhood in this wounded world by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir


Get the kids out the door to swim
Sunscreen, lots of sunscreen
Summer’s worse every damned year
Deadly heat waves are killing people as our civilization begins to crumble

Don’t think about that, gotta remember to fill water bottles
Pack a snack
Settle the dogs in their crates
Cages like those refugee children who keep dying in concentration camps

Don’t think about that, gotta get everyone herded into the car

Drive to the lake
Watch them carefully so no one drowns
Refugees keep drowning trying to flee corporate wars and the climate crisis

Don’t think about that, gotta get everyone home
Get supper on the table
This kid doesn’t like that food
Millions of children starving in Yemen

Don’t think about that, gotta get everyone ready for bed
Take off your clothes so I can check you for ticks, please
Yes, spread your legs so I can see in there, too
Millions of little girls your age fill brothels all around the world

Don’t think about that, gotta tuck them in bed
One more kiss, Mummy
Wash the dishes
Millions without water in India

Don’t think about that, gotta feed the dogs
Take them outside to do their business
Fireworks nearby scare them badly
Six year old died in the latest mass shooting

Don’t think about that, gotta go through email, voicemail
Figure out what tasks I can accomplish tonight and tomorrow
Are there doctor appointments, dentist appointments, car appointments
My last doctor appointment, he joked about wanting to give me a breast exam, which triggered my rape-survivor PTSD

Don’t think about that, gotta put on a new roll of toilet paper
Pick up those wet towels, hang them up to dry
This towel belonged to my mom
Another one of my children’s birthdays last week, without my parents alive

Don’t think about that, gotta close down the house for the night
Lock the doors, turn off the lights
Brush teeth, climb into bed
Why can’t I sleep?

Maybe that’s why when I sit by the campfire and gaze into the forest I weep and weep.
Maybe that’s why sometimes I can’t write anything
I can’t even think anything
All I can do is just look out at the trees
And weep
And ask them to comfort me
Even as my species destroys them as fast as it can.

Maybe that’s why I think of trees as mothers, grandmothers
They just keep on keeping on
Giving me Life and Breath and Grace
Even with all the horror around us.
They just hold me while I weep
So I can hold on for another day
Hold my loves
Hold to enough courage to do my part
And let the rest go.

 

Trelawney Grenfell-Muir teaches courses about Sex, Dating, Marriage, and Work in the Religion and Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College and about Cross Cultural Conflict in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A Senior Discussant at the Religion and the Practices of Peace Initiative at Harvard University, she holds an M.Div. from the Boston University School of Theology with a concentration in Religion and Conflict, and a Ph.D. in Conflict Studies and Religion with the University Professors Program at Boston University. She currently writes articles, book chapters, and liturgical resources about feminist, nature-based Christianity.
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Categories: Embodiment, Family, Motherhood, Poetry

Tags: ,

11 replies

  1. With you, in the trees. In the ordinary and non-ordinary realities of these changing times.

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  2. A lot of us seem to be finding ways to express our grief and keep on in these trying times. We are not alone. The trees will hold us. We can hold each other.

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  3. Oh, the trees – they are so steadfast – it is not surprising that we turn to them for comfort – I personally can’t get enough of them – and yet they are dying by the billions – I can’t think about that and can’t look at a tree without feeling death in the air

    This poem says it all – how we keep going in this global madhouse ‘”don’t think about that” but we do – for me the nights are the worst.

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  4. A mesmerizing refrain, a clear vision of life as it is now. Many thanks.

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  5. It is indeed a scary, depressing world we live in today. Thank Goddess, we can go to the trees for comfort. And to each other.

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  6. About a year ago I attended the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association, where one of the faculty of our Social Justice College led a workshop that helped me deal with my feelings of overwhelm concerning the many issues that I feel are pressing in today’s world. First she had us name (and light candles for) the issues (at least 20 of them), and then she asked each of us to imaginatively blow out all the candles but one, choosing one issue. Then she led us through a writing exercise, asking how we felt after eliminating the other 19. Of course, I responded that I felt the world would fall apart. There were several more questions on this side of the paper, but more importantly, she asked us to turn over the sheet of paper and write about how we felt about putting all of our energy into the one issue we had chosen. I responded that I felt energized, that I realized that I would be more effective working for this one issue.Making a conscious choice about where we put our energies really helps, and, of course, so do the trees.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Trelawney … gorgeous poem, love its rhythm and dance, alternating beauty with grief.

      Nancy, your comment so helpful … that’s what I do … I focus on one issue (sometimes more than one but usually in alternation) and that gives me hope for change.

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  7. Wow! This poem is so searing and true. Thank you for writing and posting it!

    Have to pass on this information, which you may already know. I just found out that sunscreen is implicated in damage to coral reefs. I don’t know what effect sunscreen has on fresh water. There is reef safe sunscreen. Just googled it.

    Right on, write on.

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  8. Beautiful. I feel ya, Sister! 🌹

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  9. Trees, nature… sometimes the calmest thing around us. The very things that God gave us…brings us content in our times of need.

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