Friday, October 25, 2019

Poetry Friday: Still More about Windows

Three years ago, I wrote for Poetry Friday about reading the poem "After the Blizzard, Outside My Window," by Lesléa Newman, from the Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School, with my seventh graders. They surprised and amused me with their reaction, and I wrote a sonnet, "Why I Can't Look out the Window," about what they said. Then last year, I shared my sonnet plus another poem, "Out the Window," that I wrote about the next year's seventh graders' comments in a class discussion on what was outside their windows.  Most of them said there was absolutely nothing interesting outside their windows, but I found their Haitian views interesting.

This year, I was looking at my window poems and thinking about what children can see out their windows in this time of unrest and confusion in our island home. Many children are sitting at home now with little to do but look out the window, since thousands of schools all over Haiti are closed. Those who look out may find burning tires, large groups of demonstrators, clouds of tear gas. Everything beautiful is still there, too, but sometimes it's hard to see it.
A bird outside a window at my house; I believe it's a gray kingbird.

As I was contemplating these thoughts and a possible poem, my husband sent me some images that have been making the rounds on social media. They show people covering windows with concrete blocks. It's typical here to protect windows, whether in homes or businesses, with metal bars, but apparently these stores wanted more; rioters have been breaking windows with rocks, so it may not be a bad idea. Windows are expensive to replace. But windows are also designed to see through.

I wrote this poem in response:

Block it Up

Block it up,
cover the glass
with concrete,
protect what’s inside
from angry crowds,
turn the window
into a wall.

Block it up,
block it up!

How will anyone see in?
How will anyone see out?

It doesn’t matter!
Better closed than smashed!
Better blocked than vulnerable!

Something there is that loves a wall.

Block it up!

Ruth, from

Oh, friends, what a struggle it is to figure out how far to be open, and how far to protect ourselves and stay safe! I mean that in every possible way from entirely metaphorically to extremely literally.

Today, on this Poetry Friday, the Catholic church in this country has called for a day of prayer and fasting for an end, with peace and justice, to the crisis in Haiti. If you're so inclined, we would welcome your participation. We're tired and ready for the walls of separation to come down. We're ready to see better things when we look out the window.

Karen Edmisten has the roundup today.


Jone said...

My heart hurts for you and your beloved country. Your poem says it all. Sending prayers and love.

Tabatha said...

Oh, Ruth. "Everything beautiful is still there, too, but sometimes it's hard to see it." You express the questions beautifully. Sometimes we have more questions than anything else. Praying for peace and justice there.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

I join you in your concrete-block lament; I join you in praying for peace and justice.

Cheriee Weichel said...

Everything beautiful is still there, too, but sometimes it's hard to see it. I was struck by this even before I got to the images of blocked off windows. It's a terrifying time you are in the middle of. Hope things get better. Sending peace and love to you and your country.

Molly Hogan said...

You've written such a powerful poem here, Ruth. The poem and your post resonate with despair and fatigue. My heart aches for you, for Haiti, and for those children.

Kimberly Hutmacher said...

Your recent posts have broken my heart, Ruth. Keeping you and Haiti in my prayers.

Mary Lee said...

I think of you constantly, hoping for things to get better for Haiti, and acutely aware of the blessing we have here even with the hot mess of the US government. It doesn't compare at all. May change and peace come quickly.

Kay said...

My heart hurts for you and all in Haiti. It is always difficult to know how much to build up to protect and how much to open up to vulnerability. I pray that rest and justice will come to Haiti.

Karen Eastlund said...

Ruth: You really touched me with "What a struggle it is to discern how far to be open." This is a struggle for me also, even though in a completely different circumstance. I do pray for you and for Haiti. May walls come tumbling down.

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, it is so sad that the children of Haiti continue to live shut out from education in their schoolhouse. I applaud the Catholic Church in Haiti for asking all to join in prayers for peace. I will lift my thoughts and prayers for universal peace without concrete walls. Peace be with you.

Buffy Silverman said...

So hoping your walls come down... thinking of you and thank you for sharing this.