Oh My Soul

Sundays, late morning, my poetry group meets. Some of us write a new, untried poem that morning (or the night before). Others re-work something from past months or years. We sit together in what feels like a very sacred space and we read our poems. Humor and horror, joy and guilt, love and longing, writing of spaces sacred and profound and often profane. It’s glorious to be with these people, week after week, no pressure to be anything other than who we are and wide open minds and hearts to receive the words and all that lies beneath.

April is National Poetry Month and a friend from long ago and far away sends out poetry writing prompts each April for 30 days. I’ve been writing from her prompts to see how I might expand my range. This week she had a prompt to write about soul and another prompt to write about reversals so I combined the two for my poem this week. As I thought about these two prompts, it brought to mind a favorite song of mine from my teenage years by Melanie.

Here’s a sneak peak at the first, raw draft.


Oh My Soul

When I was sinking down, oh my soul, oh my soul
When I was sinking down, oh my soul

I cling to the edges
of the raft
spinning and tumbling, I hold on
downstream, down river, down

I am drowning in rain
on the raft
buried in rain, I cannot see
downstream, down river, down

I am spinning away
from the raft
my body remains, my soul flies free
a stream, a river, now

I walk to the edges
of the shore
shedding the rain, I now see
no stream, no river, none

I am standing firm
on the shore
holding my soul, I know
no stream, no river, none

To God and to his man, I will sing
I’m gonna sing to God and to his man, I’m gonna sing
To God and to his man, who is afraid? I am not.
~ Melanie Safka, Gather Me 1971 Emma MacKenzie April 2019