Welcome to my CSU poetry blog. My name is Gabrielle Cadenhead, and I am the Mission Worker for Christian Students Uniting at the University of Sydney. I am also a published poet and editor, and I am thrilled to be able to share some of that creativity with you here.
Each month, I will be bringing you a curated collection of poems around a particular theme. Some of them are written by me, some by other members of CSU, and some by different poets I admire.
This first collection revolves around Keeping Faith, one of CSU’s three central tenets, and in the coming months I will be sharing collections on Doing Justice and Building Community. I hope these words resonate with you as you read these poems and breathe.
breathe in / breathe out
that constant rhythm
our bodies know so well
catching in chests
its gentle ebb and flow
turned practiced sigh
what is faith
but a breath
lungs full of particles left
by the big bang
dare to hope
the next breath
A Small Needful Fact
Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.
Eric Garner was killed on 17 July 2014 after being choked and arrested by Daniel Pantaleo of the New York Police Department. Eric repeated the phrase “I can’t breathe” eleven times while being held face down on the footpath.
Time of the Month
At That Time of the Month, I get back pain and often want to lie flat, looking upside-down at the world. I sometimes feel, then, that something strange is moving, in my belly and through me. Something not-me is in me, and my body is writhing under skin. There’s not much I can do about this.
Sometimes I lie on the floor, and my eyes drink in the ceiling. All the world is pressing into my skin and I can feel the sky breathing. Then everything but me is moving, and something is moving in me, and all the world’s pressed in, like fizzy lightning. Eyes closed, I can see everything. Or maybe everything is a felt thing.
At times, it feels like my body is doing things without me. Having its own adventures, keeping its own time. Paul calls the church a body. Sometimes I think this is why. My body does things without my permission – even though my body is me.
Sometimes I find it hard to trust that my body knows what it’s doing. Especially when I’m bleeding, and it feels like my flesh is wriggling. The body doesn’t always know what it’s doing. It seizes up, gets sick, grows frail, is not in my control.
God is another thing I cannot control. But I try to remember: God, too, had a body that bled.
Hannah Roux is President of Christian Students Uniting student club and a PhD candidate in English Literature at the University of Sydney.
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