I first read this poem sometime after the events of 9/11. Partnered with a US citizen, I had two young children born in Los Angeles. Watching the horrific events play out in New York and Washington, it felt to me like the world was coming apart.
These words from poet Wendell Berry came to me from somewhere. I don’t recall how, but they embodied fragility and beauty in a way I needed at the time. I remember laying on the grass of neighbouring Royal Park with my son, looking up at the stars and feeling despair and grace in equal measure. One did not discount the other, but grace held.
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.