National Poetry Month: Lynn Ungar

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In light of April being National Poetry Month, every Monday in April, Unbound will publish a poem. I will select the poems, by nationally recognized poets, because they speak in one way or another to what we are all facing in light of pandemic. 

In the first column, I shared my background and experience with poetry. I don’t need to do that again. As I share these poems, I remember what I learned many years ago as an undergraduate in my first poetry class: a good poem should, usually, be able to speak for itself and does not elaborate introduction before being read. In light of that wisdom, I will keep my introductions brief.

The second selection in this series is by Lynn Unger. It is a new poem written in March. Its timeliness is apparent.  Lynn Unger is a Unitarian Universalist minister who lives in the San Francisco Bay area. I’m particularly fond of two other poems by Ms. Unger, “Camas Lilies” and “The Way It Is”. I appreciate Ms. Unger giving permission for me to reproduce her poem, PANDEMIC, in this column. I encourage you to check out her work. 

Pandemic by Lynn Ungar

What if you thought of it
as the Sabbath –
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has become clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise the world your love – for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

Used in UNBOUND with permission of the poet. Lynn Ungar’s book of poetry, Bread and Other Miracles, is available through her website, lynnungar.com.


Rev. Dave Brown is the creator/host of BLUES VESPERS, one of the PNW Interfaith Amigos and a member of the PCUSA Public Education Roundtable. Rev. Brown is the former pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Tacoma. 

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