“To Grow Sane” by Gail Tremblay // A Poem for America 5/30/20

In response to the violence that has erupted in America this week, and to the continued existence of such hatred for one towards another …
To grow sane

by Gail Tremblay


Pain rises like a wave from an ocean

that spreads further than I can see –

it is impossible to avoid being swallowed

by sorrow, impossible to ignore the salt

stinging even in the old wounds. Memory

drags the beloved dead that nothing would save

from burial grounds, from common graves,

from jars and glass cases where students

who dissected them pickled or displayed

the remains. We examine lost loves

and remember so many tender moments

locked in time – our hearts should beat

wildly then rock shut, but still we breathe

and pulse feeds the wailing brain – witness

to the violence that haunts us ‘til death

seems sweeter than the madness in our world.


So often it seems unfair we can give

everything we have and never fill the bellies

of the starving, never heal the bodies burned

and broken by bombs. The Earth’s sweet fruit,

the tender shoots of plants grow while we love

and love and wake the magic that lives

in the first simple light which fills so many

birds with song.   How can it be that torture,

murder, the building of instruments for death

goes on and on and on. Millions starve

while a few hoard wheat and rice and corn.

It is hard to imagine how such madness

ever began. The hunger for kindness becomes

insatiable;  we no longer understand why needless

violence is defined as part of human nature.


We pray old lies will die, that visions

will dance on the land, that we will

learn a song to heal the Earth and bless

the four directions, the five colors

of people and of corn. That everyone,

black, white, yellow, red, and mixed

will see the sacred light that weaves

creation into a dazzling pattern

where life is supported by the interaction

of every creature the force that created

thinks of.  We stand on the beach

by the edge of the water and weep,

let grief wash the madness away

until we see the beauty in the sun.

Light wakes us from life’s nightmare, and we sing.


by Gail Tremblay