Good Grief – a Poem


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

(Page 28)

Amanda Gorman: Using Your Voice Is a Political Choice (TED Talk)

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