Thursday, August 7, 2014

Jan Zwicky: "Recovery"

Curator's note: I came across this video while searching (unsuccessfully) for the printed source of this poem. The video and poem resonate. Keep your eye on Mama. If you can't see the viewer above, watch here.

And when at last grief has dried you out, nearly
weightless, like a little bone, one day,
no reason in particular, the world decides to tug:
twinge under the breastbone, the sudden thought
you might stand up, walk to the door and
keep on going… And in the seconds following,
like the silence following the boom under the river ice, it all
seems possible, the egg-smooth clarity of the new-awakened,
rising, to stand, and walk… But already
at the edges of the crack, sorrow
starts to ooze, the brown stain spreading
and you think: there is no end to it.

But in the breaking, something else is given—not
that glittering jumble, shrieking and churning in the blind
                                                   centre of the afternoon,
but something else—a scent,
like a door flung open, a sudden downpour
through which you can still see the sun, derelict
in the neighbour’s field, the wren’s bright eye in the thicket.
As though on that day in August, or even July,
when you were first thinking of autumn, you remembered also
the last day of spring, which had passed
without your noticing. Something that easy, let go
without a thought, untroubled by oblivion,
a bird, a smile.

"Recovery" by Jan Zwicky, as published online here. From Songs for Relinquishing the Earth. © Brick Books, 1998.

Video credit: "Fawn Rescue," posted by hikeart on November 10, 2011.


  1. Many thanks to subscriber Jack Schwarz for supplying the source for this poem, which I've just added to the post.

  2. Recovery touched my heart...the twinge under the breast bone. It made me think of The Journey..Mary O..."and there was a new voice...". I think recovery entails such profound changes in the way we perceive our world..I know it has for me..thank you...

  3. That link to the online source no longer works. I searched and found that it's from her book Songs for Relinquishing the Earth, Brick Books, 1998, thanks to this post

    1. Thank you for the update, Barb! I no longer keep links updated since my attention has turned to other projects. By the way, since you love poetry so much, you might want to check out my work on The Raft, my online community (


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