My People Carry a Wound [a poem on racism]

I’ve said before that I’m not much of a poet and don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to poetry. That remains the same as the last time I shared a free form poem. So keep that in mind.

I wrote this poem because it was necessary to write to help me process the events of the last weeks. After praying and grieving and being confused and feeling bombarded by news and social media posts expressing genuine grief, rage, and condemnation, I still felt heavy (because apparently that’s what sin makes you feel).

So I prayed some more, grieved some more, wrestled some more, thought some more, got off social media for a few days, and asked God a lot of questions. I expect that cycle will continue. At the end of this round, there was finally some peace and clarity.

It was helpful for me to write My People Carry a Wound; I hope it’s helpful for you to read.

Note: “My people” in this poem refers not to white people or black people or all people but simply Americans.

old old wound (1)

My people carry a wound

It is an old, old wound
Carried by: many generations
Maybe even
Every generation

It is a deep, deep wound
Inflicted by: many hearts and hands
Maybe even
Every heart and hand

We have torn at the wound
As if it can be healed or cleansed
By scraping and clawing

And yet
And yet
And yet

After hundreds of years
The wound is worse
Our hearts are worse
Maybe worse off than we’ve ever been

The wound remains
Infected
Bleeding
So torn open
So full of poison
We wonder:
Will it ever heal?
Will we ever heal?

//

Brown, white, black, blue
The wound is so old
Brown, white, black, blue
The wound is so old

//

Do we even know:
Who we are without it?

Do we even know:
How to be without it?

Without the anger
Without the bitterness
Without the fear
Without the hate
Without the pride
Without the prejudice
Without the revenge
Without the shame
Without the self-pity
Without the sin

//

We don’t know the difference
Between
Justice and revenge

We don’t know the difference
Between
Humility and guilt

We don’t know the difference
Between
Foolish pride and simple confidence

We all try
To bind our wound
We install rules, systems, protections
We protest
Riot
Stay silent
We spread awareness
Get educated
We make arguments
Demands

“But, no, I don’t understand”
“But, no, you don’t understand”
But, no, we don’t understand

And so
And so
And so

And we sow more wounds
Into that old, old wound
And more blood drips
From that deep, deep wound

//

We say:
We must fix it
We can fix it
This can’t go on

And yet
And yet
And yet

The work of our hands doesn’t last
For how can we prevail against
Such a wound?
Our emancipations
Our movements
Never seem to
Get momentum
Stick
Last

A few decades or a few years
We find:
The wound is just as bad
As it ever was
Except maybe it’s worse now
Because with every generation
Its roots run older
Its roots run deeper

//

We want:
To blame one side

But:
We are all to blame

Because:
Sin is in all of us

And so:
Hurt people hurt people

And so:
No one has the high ground

And so:
We are
None of us
Innocent

//

Some on all sides
Will carry the wound
Down to hell

Some will reject
The Jesus way
The only way

And justice has two ends:
Jesus’ blood on the cross
Or
Jesus’ righteous wrath on the last day

And Jesus is:
Sadder
Angier
Holier
Than I am
Than you are
Than we are

So justice will be had
In the end
But will we ever heal
Before the end?

Are we doomed to:
This sundering of soul
This prejudice of pain
This madness of murder
This brutality of heart?

Everything we sow in the wound
Returns as a violent revenant

And yet
And yet
And yet

Where our reason ends
Where our means end
Where our guilt ends
Where our anger ends
Where our ideas end
Where our pride ends
Where our way ends

There is the God of love
With a gospel of peace

And where the gospel is sown
Old things pass away
And new things grow

For where the gospel of
Grace
Compassion
Mercy
Patience
Is sown in
The heart
The mind
The soul
The body
The wound…
Grace grows
Compassion comes
Mercy multiplies
Patience perseveres

And yet
And yet
And yet

The growing is difficult
The growing is slow

The dying of the old things is difficult
The dying of the old things is slow
The dying of the old things
Flies in the face of all our instincts

For in the dying of the old things:
Sin: must be called sin
Wrong: must be called wrong
Everyone’s sin
Mine
Yours
Ours

Calling out wrong
This we know how to do

And yet
And yet
And yet

There is more
And it is not easy

For after sin is named
Mine
Yours
Ours
In order to hold to the gospel
To hold to the path of peace
To hold to the
Plainly spoken marching orders
Of the Lord of the gospel
It is not reparations
It is not revenge
It is not wrath
It is not silence
It is not ignoring
It is repentance that must come

Repentance
On my hands and knees
On your hands and knees
On our hands and knees
Seeing
Feeling
Reeling
Under the weight
Tasting the sorrow
The evil
The unholiness
Of sin gone back so many generations
And so rampant in our generation

And then
And then
And then

The turn
The forgiveness
The healing

The difficult growing of the gospel
Bears the fruit of holiness
Bears the fruit of forgiveness
Bears the fruit of Christ-likeness

For when
The gospel of Jesus Christ
Is sown in the wound
The impossible
Becomes possible

And then
And then
And then

The blood that heals our wound
Is the precious blood of Jesus
And the weight of all that sin:
My sin
Your sin
Our sin
My racism
Your racism
Our racism
Falls on Jesus

And then
And only then
The wound can close
And we will bleed no more.


With love and prayers for the hurting,

Rosalie

p.s. – songs to listen to: Side by Side by Wilder Adkins and Carry the Fire by Andrew Peterson.

One thought on “My People Carry a Wound [a poem on racism]

  1. What do you MEAN you don’t know what you’re doing with poetry??? This was…wow. This was so powerful, and beautiful, and spoke so much truth. I am truly speechless.

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Absolutely beautiful, NEEDED words. <3

    Like

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