The origin of the word trauma
Is not just “wound,” but “piercing” or “turning,”
As blades do when finding home.
Grief commands its own grammar,
Structured by intimacy & imagination.
We often say:
We are beside ourselves with grief.
We can’t even imagine.
This means anguish can call us to envision
More than what we believed was carriable
Or even survivable.
This is to say, there does exist
A good grief.
The hurt is how we know
We are alive & awake;
It clears us for all the exquisite,
Excruciating enormities to come.
We are pierced new by the turning
All that is grave need
Not be a burden, an anguish.
Call it, instead, an anchor,
Grief grounding us in its sea.
Despair exits us the same way it enters-
Turning through the mouth.
Even now conviction works
Strange magic on our tongues.
We are built up again
By what we
What we carry means we survive,
It is what survives us.
We have survived us.
Where once we were alone,
Now we are beside ourselves.
Where once we were barbed & brutal as blades,
Now we can only imagine.
Call Us What We Carry
Poems by Amanda Gorman
National Youth Poet Laureate