This fortnight’s challenge, to write an Elegy, produced some truly moving and heart-wrenching responses, as you might expect given the nature of the Elegy itself. My thanks and congratulations to those who entered; I was moved by your words and impressed by how powerfully you used your response to grief to create art which I hope brings some form of consolation. Special thanks also to Jay of September Heart-to-Hearts, winner of last fortnight’s challenge and this fortnight’s judge. You can find the results with judge’s comments below:
First Place: Dear Death by Rishika Jain
She was suffering, dying
We visited her every day to make her feel home
We wished she’d die peacefully, it was painful to watch her fighting
Fighting for something that became a part of her, and pierced our hearts, made a hole.
We would see her lying in her bed
We saw her body but it was like her soul had been sucked out,
Mum and dad would talk in hushed voices, but I knew of her soon-to-come death
I knew she’d be no more one day, leaving our hearts alone to scream and cry and shout.
We would try to talk to her, make her feel happy
But she would only give a frail nod, fake a smile I watched her in her death bed, feeling peaceful after an eternity of a life too crappy
After all the pain and agony she’d felt, after running such extra miles.
She would sit up and talk sporadically
I admired how she tried despite the pain she was in
And the day you took her, I cried hysterically
Reminiscing on how I was scared to even enter her room the first time mum took me
I saw her resting as you came to take her,
Did you get her to heaven or to hell?
Did you punish yourself for her murder?
Or did you reward yourself, for taking her away from the pain she felt?
Did you make sure she went home safely?
Or did you send down her spirit here
To protect what she had treasured deeply
And to let her guard what she felt was dear.
We were told- hold on, it’ll pass,
All the anguish and torment will drown itself, you just walk and hold yourself together.
But what if it shattered before I could walk the bridge across?
What if it went too soon, leaving me with a broken heart?
But what if it slivered before I could handle
Broke into a million little pieces
Leaving me to cry and scream
Knowing nobody would hear a thing?
©Rishika Jain 2020. All rights reserved.
‘I think the way this poem is divided into parts, each part describing the different stages of grief of losing a dear one and how it addresses death in the second person, really makes it unique and powerful. I also liked the raw form of the poem which I think suggests that the poetess has written this piece very passionately.’
I also found this poem a very moving and personal response to Rishika’s grief at the loss of her grandmother. Congratulations, Rishika, I would like to offer you the chance to judge the next EIF Poetry Challenge!
Second Place: Pained Reality by Lyn Crain
I caught myself in the mirror, totally unaware
yet I hardly recognized this stranger staring back at me
In a glimpse showed I was in desperate need of repair
But my deeply installed manners say, don’t judge what I see.
Maybe if I blink, her image will vanish until tomorrow
And with that brief reprieve, that which struck her core
Will be undone and free her from such horrific sorrow.
And once again, there will be the woman impossible to ignore.
‘It’s a non-traditional elegy, it addresses the sorrow and anger which comes when people are unable to express grief because of some unchanging way of living that they’ve been taught to follow since childhood, the poetess puts them very accurately as deeply installed manners. I really liked this unique take and how it delivers the underlying message so cleverly.’
Lyn was writing about her feelings following the death of her grandson. She has a section in her blog entitled ‘52 letters to Johnny,’ in which she uses her poetry to try to come to terms with her grief and loss. She also wrote another elegy on this theme in response to the challenge, which I am going to reproduce here because I found it so moving, raw and powerful:
Elegy of Johnny ( October 15, 2005- July 1, 2019)
Desperate to breathe, yet not one breath appears
Unable to scream, or even rage for the pain is so great
Our inability to function gave way to silent sneers
Holding his fractured body, crippled by the world’s weight
Branded all of our lives, to a slow drowning by tears
Because his young life was stolen by an act of fate.©
As a mother of young children, I find this painful to read, but what power in those words which cut straight to the heart! Congratulations and thank you Lyn for both of your entries.
Dealing with grief
All of this fortnight’s entries were personal and heartfelt responses to grief. Grief can be a very lonely place, as no one can experience our particular grief and each persons grief is as unique as the person for whom they are grieving. However, it’s important to remember you are not alone. I have found some wonderful blogs which deal with the subject of grief and loss and offer hope to those left behind. If you are struggling to deal with bereavement, I highly recommend the following:
Katie and Evee of The Grief Reality will be hosting The Grief Cafe on 30 August 2020, an event where you can meet other people who have gone through similar experiences, where you can share your story, listen to the stories of others and offer mutual support.
Thanks again to everyone who took part in this challenge, and for helping normalise the conversation about grief. Thanks also to Jay for judging.
See you next time,