Sometimes, poems are inspired by a single word, and when you mine that word, you find a multi-faceted glistening diamond of a heart that holds light in its depths and throws it back out in a thousand directions.

This poem was inspired by such a word and, in particular, by the contrast between its deep and beautiful multi-faceted meaning and the dull, dry veneer that so often obscures its inherent beauty.


They stride into language,
apply their restraints,
pinion the word
against its will,
chemical numbness
forced into its veins

“You won’t feel a thing”

And then,
as it sleeps,
they shrink it,
squeeze it,
scarify with scalpel,
diminish with drains,
until all that is left
is a dry, empty husk

Of burden and duty,
of optional extra,
of “if you don’t mind”,
“if you like”,
“if you can”,
“if you’re sure”,
“if you have the resources –
but we’ll make sure you don’t.”

And you don’t feel a thing
as this beautiful word
with its wide, open heart
has its rainbow of feathers
plucked from its wings
so it can fit in the box
that they ask you to tick

And you do not remember
how its voice used to sing
of belonging and value
in thousands of harmonies
threaded together
in rising crescendo
of invitation

You no longer discern
how its arms can unfold
in abundant embrace
building bridges
across oceans of difference

But though they take the word
and render its meaning
they cannot make it

For the world-changing power
lies not in the word,
but in deeds,
in deeply rooted,
chaotic, dishevelled,
glorious acts
of building bigger tables
and tearing down fences

And they fear this
rebellious riot of grace
beyond their control,
but the beauty is
that there is space,
a still small space,
even for them
to sit in their discomfort

That is what it means –
there is room for all

When we choose
to live lives
through that prism of love,
releasing the light
in full colour spectrum,
however imperfectly,
we breathe back life

It is an act of resurrection

© Julie Wilkinson 2021

Listen to Julie perform the poem below:

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