Live Virtual Group Session: 7pm EST April 17th 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session! On a Friday evening we had approximately 40 participants connected to us from across the United States, with some joining from Virginia, California, and Massachusetts, and even some international friends from Canada.

Our text was “Speaking Tree” by Joy Harjo, posted below. After two readings of our poem, the group discussed the sense of trees as humans and humans as trees, and the relationship between poetry/poe-tree. What does being rooted and grounded mean without movement but with the desire to move?

Our prompt was: “Write about a longing.” Prompted writing revealed poetic language in the shadow of the text where time is slowed, there is a longing to dance, and a wind threading rings. In discussion of the writing shared, participants noted the rich descriptions of the connections between individual and communal experiences, the interdependence between our bodies and the natural environment, and the variance in our perceptions of the passage of time.

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Please join us for our next session: Sunday, April 19th at 1pm EST, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Speaking Tree

I had a beautiful dream I was dancing with a tree.
                                                - Sandra Cisneros

Some things on this earth are unspeakable:
Genealogy of the broken—
A shy wind threading leaves after a massacre,
Or the smell of coffee and no one there—

Some humans say trees are not sentient beings,
But they do not understand poetry—

Nor can they hear the singing of trees when they are fed by
Wind, or water music—
Or hear their cries of anguish when they are broken and bereft—

Now I am a woman longing to be a tree, planted in a moist, dark earth
Between sunrise and sunset—

I cannot walk through all realms—
I carry a yearning I cannot bear alone in the dark—

What shall I do with all this heartache?

The deepest-rooted dream of a tree is to walk
Even just a little ways, from the place next to the doorway—
To the edge of the river of life, and drink—

I have heard trees talking, long after the sun has gone down:

Imagine what would it be like to dance close together
In this land of water and knowledge. . .

To drink deep what is undrinkable.

From Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings
by Joy Harjo
Copyright © 2015 by Joy Harjo
W.W. Norton & Company

Narrative Medicine Book Club: April 17, 2020

The first pages of Part III are eerily back on track with our world again, as the narrator gives a sweeping summary of the way things are in the late summer of the plague in Oran. The highest numbers of victims are in the areas with the closest quarters – the less affluent districts, the prison. Revolts start to happen. The narrator spends a while telling us about the grim reality of burials, the details of which are not too different from what we are seeing: victims dying alone, families unable to attend the funeral. And then another chilling and prescient statement, when more “immediate concerns” prevents the town people from fixating on the burials: “Taken up with queuing, pulling strings and filling forms if they wanted to eat, people did not have time to worry about how others were dying around them and how they themselves would one day die. So these material difficulties which seemed like an affliction would eventually be seen to have been a boon.” 

FOR TOMORROW: Read to the end of Part III! And our next zoom call will be Sunday at 2pm – keep your eye on the blog for the zoom link to register!