Push of Joy


I CAN wade grief, Whole pools of it,—
I ’m used to that.
But the least push of joy
Breaks up my feet,        
And I tip—drunken.
Let no pebble smile,
’T was the new liquor,—
That was all!

Power is only pain,        
Stranded, through discipline,
Till weights will hang.
Give balm to giants,
And they ’ll wilt, like men.
Give Himmaleh,–        
They ’ll carry him!

When I first encountered Emily Dickinson’s poetry in high school, during the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius and Vietnam War protests, I thought there was nothing “relevant” about it at all. Not many years later, I began to appreciate her intensely private world, discovering she was not the maudlin old maid my sophomoric-self had imagined, earlier. Her lines, edited down to  within an inch of their existence, become poignant, visceral expressions of the paradoxes of life. “I Can Wade Grief” for example.

It’s words have rambled through the corridors of my brain these days I’ve spent crossing hospital hallways, pressing door buttons, entering intensive care units, sitting quietly, or punching parking tickets. And now that Jim doesn’t look like an ashen corpse or jaundice, swollen war victim anymore, I can begin to believe that we’re past the life and death moment of this experience. With each step he takes, the Himalaya mountain I’ve been carrying melts and the tender words and acts of compassion you all have so profusely shared with us overwhelm my being with gratitude, which at the most unexpected moments, makes my feet break, chest heave and tears finally flow, as I release the penned-up emotions I had no room to face in that dark, narrow tunnel.

Today, the sun is shining in a cloudless, winter, Ohio sky. Eventually, the snow will melt, spring will come and we’ll be granted yet another summer to rally in our own private Eden, basking in the rays of love which crumble grief and wilt giants.


14 thoughts on “Push of Joy

  1. Bruce, you have painted with words what we anxious friends have been praying for…the dam of your grief and anxiety bursting and Jim beginning to recover, freeing your heart to feel once more the joys of life and love. God bless you both.

  2. What a joyous miracle! You have a lot of people praying and wishing great things for you.Bless you both.
    Rosemary Reymann

  3. Yippee! The rebirth of Spring is very meaningful this year! Feel its warmth and strength bringing you both back to your robust expression of life!! Thanks for sharing thoughts and progress with us all. With love, Zanne & Ian

  4. I’m so glad He is better. Saturday nite at Symphony I was talking with another one of Jim’s chorister and one of Jim’s remarks to us before all of our concerts hit us both nearly simultaneously:
    There are 3 types of people in your audience today 1) Those who have never heard this piece; 2) those who have heard it many times and will come again and again to hear it; 3) those who may be hearing it for the last time………Thank God Jim is still with us at #2.
    Never fails to choke me up when he says and I’m so glad I will get it hear it again and again from him.
    Prayers and Love for continued recovery and strength

  5. Such a beautiful entry. I am so happy that Jim is feeling better and is determined to “fight” through this unfortunate experience. I wish I could be there to give you both a huge hug! I know that tears are normal and it’s good to release them…hopefully, along with sad tears today will also be some tears of joy as you both round the corner of the experience and move forward with your beautiful lives together. Love and many many hugs and kisses.


  6. Today is a magnificent day to live even more intensely. Feel more, love more, share more. All my sympathy from France. You two guys take care!

  7. Bruce, you’ve both been in my thoughts in the last few days – I am so glad to hear Jim is recovering! Love to you both!

  8. Bruce, Thank you for sharing your thoughts, your love, and your update on Jim. Today is a blessed day, knowing that tomorrow did come for you and Jim, and that tomorrow will come yet again. Sending much love to both of you.

  9. I’m just catching up on emails and was at first frightened and appalled. So glad to hear all is improving and your love reigns.

    My thoughts are with you both.

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