Writing is Good Medicine™

Who said, “Poetry is language writing itself out of a difficult situation?” I’m not sure. What does come to mind is the poem “Late Fragment” by Raymond Carver, who was a patient at the time. 

“And did you get what
You wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved,
To feel myself beloved on earth.” 

During my tenure as a medical humanist at Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, I turned to my skill set as a writer to create and facilitate a program titled Writing is Good Medicine™ which helped patients put words to their experience. I provided a prompt and asked them to write whatever came to mind. On one occasion I handed out a copy of “Late Fragment.” I was awe struck by what Maureen Kearns wrote, which I’ll share with you.

“When I read the Late Fragment poem I puzzled over the words ‘Even so…’ ”

I wondered what that meant within the context of the words given.
I puzzled even more about the question…
Did I get what I wanted from this life?

“even so “ was the easier of the two questions…

“To call myself beloved…to feel myself beloved on this earth…

Both questions answered.

The “even so “ phrase makes terrific sense to the indescribable joy
one finds in the ordinary of life…

To call myself beloved…to feel beloved on this earth…
I would not have known these words to say…
and yet they have crept into my heart.

When I thought about getting what I wanted from this life…
I’ve not thought of it that way…I didn’t make a list and go after things.
I lacked the wisdom to identify in large ways what my heart yearned for.
Only lately have I begun to know in a clearer way what
I have been looking for all of my life…

To call myself beloved…to find at last a true love for myself…
to love all of myself and treat myself gently amid success and failure.

to feel myself beloved on this earth…Who would not find pure joy
in this…are not all other joys made small by comparison
and other substitutes unmasked as counterfeit.

I am glad this poem was given to me…I’m glad it began to live and breathe for me.

A bit of sadness touches the corner of my eyes…
I want more time for living even as poorly as I do sometimes.
I want more time for doing it.

I have felt beloved on this earth…
so sweet the sound and feel…
moments one would wish would last and last…but I have known its touch.”

Perhaps, we should all take a moment to write about what Carver’s words bring to mind.
You never know what will be revealed.


One Comment

  1. Michael Keane

    The “love” part is interesting to me. I have loved and been loved, a lot, a lot, a lot.

    What I have discovered that is most precious to me is that I have so many to love in my life… immediate family, extended family of close relatives in so many places who stay in touch, and friends, friends in so many places… some are great family friends of several generations, some are former colleagues, former clients, former students. I care about them; they care about me and us. Because of them, I feel “land rich.”

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