Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EDT September 20th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!

For this session we close read “A Body’s Universe of Big Bangs by Leslie Contreras Schwartz, posted below.

Our prompt for this session was: “Write (or write about) a holy song.

More details on this session will be posted, so check back!

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.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Wednesday September 22nd at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


"A Body’s Universe of Big Bangs" by Leslie Contreras Schwartz


A body must remind itself
to keep alive, continually,
throughout the day.

Even at night while sleeping,
proteins, either messenger, builder,
or destroyer, keeps busy

transforming itself or other substances.
Scientists call these reactions
—to change their innate structure,
dictated by DNA—cellular frustration,

a cotton-cloud nomenclature for crusade,
combat, warfare, aid, unification,
scaffold, or sustain.

Even while the body sleeps, a jaw slackened
into an open dream, inside is the drama
of the body’s own substances meeting

one another, stealing elements,
being changed elementally,
altered by a new story

called chemical reaction.
A building and demolishment,
creating or undoing,

the body can find movement,
functioning organs, resists illness—
or doesn’t. Look inside every living being

and find this narrative of resistance,
the live feed of being resisted.
The infant clasping her fist

or the 98-year-old releasing
hers. This is how it should be,
we think, a long story carried out

to a soft conclusion. In reality,
little deaths hover and nibble,
little births opening mouths
and bodies the site of stories

and the tales given to us, and retold, retold,
never altered, and the ones forgotten,
changed, unremembered

until this place is made of only
ourselves. Our own small dictators,
peacemakers, architects, artists.

A derelict cottage,
a monumental church
struck in gold, an artist’s studio

layered with paints and cut paper,
knives and large canvas—

the site the only place
containing our best holy song:

I will live. I will live. I will keep living.




Copyright © 2020 by Leslie Contreras Schwartz. 
This poem originally appeared in 
Pleiades: Literature in Context, October 2020.

17 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EDT September 20th 2021

  1. A Holy Song by Rose Cano

    Can a song be completely silent?
    Like healthy organs producing life-sustaining goodness without complaints?
    Or is a song actual sounds?
    The inner torrent of our own blood stream is the racing rhythm of our own personal ocean.

    Breath. Gush.
    Rattle. Moan.

    Lifting out soul from material
    Skin comes undone from spirit
    And it flies off
    Letting the soul SHOUT!

    A holy song.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The ‘holy song’ is often the one that is silent. Or it may be breath of wind in the trees, or russle in the grass. Or the gurgle of a hungry belly. I love the lines “skin comes undone from spirit / And it flies off / Letting the soul SHOUT!” Made me think of moments when I’ve been surprised by the sudden flight of a pheasant from the long grass during a walk. Not sure if that makes sense but that’s the picture or memory that came to mind. Thank you!

      Like

    • al3793

      Rose, there is so much beautiful language and poetry in your peace/piece. I will shout and listen carefully at the Flight 93 Memorial when I get there today. Thank you. Andre
      Breathe. Gush.
      Rattle. Moan.

      Like

  2. The Wall, 2009

    Standing at the wall where so many have stood before me,
    stuffing prayer scraps into the cracks and crevices of this ancient facade.

    Sparrows hop and chirp like noisy cherubs,
    one flies off with a prayer in its mouth.

    I shiver under an unrelenting sun,
    A coldness radiates down from head to toe exposing every cell in my body.
    Until there’s no hiding place.

    When I stepped away, you asked me what happened
    but I couldn’t answer, my tongue still frozen

    All these years later, my body warm and heavy with age,
    What I recall is the sparrows’ holy song and, somewhere, a prayer-lined nest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • al3793

      Michael
      Your narrative takes me back to that wall just before the pandemic and the sparrows serenade. I didn’t recognize the holy song in the moment my mind distracted, reflecting on the suffering contemplated at that holy place. A good reminder to be attuned to the many ways holiness presents itself. The sparrow unknowingly lining its nest with a prayer pauses my breath and adds a rich layer to my experience. Andre

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gina Catena

    The Guarantee

    Life’s only guarantee once a newborn’s lungs expand for the first time
    There will be a last breath
    When happens between the two?
    Will there be a failed newborn rescusitation?
    Or years of poverty, neglect, pressures to conform
    A burst of creativity
    Or love, sorrow, hate, war, success, addiction, joy
    Each breath brings us closer to the last
    In and Out. Breathe. Life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • al3793

      Gina,
      It’s interesting we both referenced a newborn’s first breath. There is so much that can happen between the first and last. Perhaps more holy songs can help the listener live their way into the answers. (From Rilke). Andre

      Like

  4. Write a holy song~~~

    I live. I live freely.
    I shout up to the mountain tops,
    I shout down to the valleys covered in green.
    I hear the heartbeat of the Creator,
    ever-present in all I view.
    I breathe in deeply of the fresh air about me,
    refreshing the spirit within.

    I am alive today. I will be alive tomorrow.
    I will give thanks to all that surrounds me
    and which has been infused within me.

    Blessings abound and they will support me on this journey of life.

    Like

  5. al3793

    Holy!
    A child is born.
    Holy!
    Sperm and ovum unite.
    Holy!
    A baby grows inside a womb.
    Holy!
    Listening to the swishing sound of its mother’s heart.
    Holy!
    So close.
    Holy!
    So Close.
    Holy!
    No one else in the world has a relationship with a child like that of its mother.
    Holy! Holy! Holy!
    A mother breathes deep with joy.
    Holy!
    A child takes its first breath.
    Holy!
    Embrace.
    Holy! Holy! Holy!

    Andre

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Patricia D.

    “My Sweet Lord” is a holy song that followed me as I hitch-hiked through Europe, trained past the Iron Curtain, crossed all of Turkey, and bussed around Iran until I finally walked across the no-man’s-land from Pakistan into India. As I traveled to Auroville, in Tamil Nadu, I was sure that my sweet Lord was directing me to venture inward.

    Liked by 1 person

    • al3793

      Patricia,
      Perhaps that holy song was infused and provided providential guidance needed to wend the speaker’s way on this trek. Was the inward venture meant to stir the holiness encountered along the way.
      Andre

      Like

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