“The World Is a Savage Place,” “Moon Prayer” and “Soft Body”

In Issue 59 by Christen Lee

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

The World is a Savage Place

The world is a savage place.

Have you read the news today?

Surveyed rural highways,

An elegy to wildlife speared by cars like arrows from the crossbow?

Felt life fade from the one clutched in your arms?

Seen a man sink to his knees as you whisper

“She’s gone”?

Embraced a weeping mother as you offer

“I’m sorry”?

Well I have.

I have and I have

Tried to untell tragedies

Tried to unsee carnage

Tried to unread newsprint

Tried to unspell the words sprawled out in bold caps

WAR, TERRORISM, RACISM, GUN VIOLENCE, PANDEMIC, OBITUARY

But these words stretch around the world

Spanning 360 degrees

Ending on the page before me

Next to which I scrawl the words

LIFE, LOVE, BEAUTY, GRACE

Reminding me that although tragedy is never far

That life is a gift to be lived

That love is a wellspring that never dries

That beauty unfolds fresh each day

That grace follows beauty

If you wait for it

Watch for it

Open your heart to it.

The world is a savage place

But scrawled in the spaces

Spanning 360 degrees

The world is also a place overflowing with

LIFE, LOVE, BEAUTY, GRACE.

Moon Prayer

Here in the twilight hour

The day serves up the night

On a round moon silver platter.

I am driving, carving my way

Down an unknown road that feels like home.

At this hour, the earth is lovely.

Cloaked in silver,

She falls quiet,

Because all things are sacred.

Even the dirt glows holy.

So I stop my car to gaze in spectator wonder

At this luminous rock that feeds the earth

Cool night, beaming light

This underside of life

In which I bathe in moonlight,

Dream in rainbow,

Abandon all shame.

Under night’s cover

I embrace my fear of a world that may walk away

Because I am gossamer, so fragile.

And it may be too late,

Because I am alone

In a world full of movement

Where stillness is the only place I can find myself.

Motionless, I pray under a giant moon

Who spills her silver light

Over a canvas of earth

And fills my eyes with stars.

And on this road that feels like home,

I become pure magic

An essence of passing twilight splendor.

Here in this twilight hour

Tucked between day and night.

Soft Body

They say to love your body

This soft, generous Madonna

Who feeds you life

You say that you could never be happy

Inside these curves that cradle you

That crave and purge

Your armor is a stubborn skin

But even armor breaks down

Weak-kneed in the hands of shame

You offer yourself

Limbs tied

Body forged into the shape of desire

But bodies are built for more than survival

Evolved to feed from the inside

Until finally satisfied

With more than crumbs

You say it’s impossible

To find love when

Lost inside your own skin

Lacking nothing but good enough

Empty enough

To see right through pale moon skin

A ghost half-alive

A heart that beats with time

As memory

Where I was once just like you

Lost inside a soft body

Paper thin

Pale moon skin

Folded up

Into the shape of you

About the Author

Christen Lee

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Christen Lee is a family nurse practitioner in Cleveland, Ohio. Her writing has been featured in the Cleveland Humanities Festival poetry collaborative, Literary Cleveland’s Voices from the Edge Anthology, Rue Scribe and is forthcoming in Aurora – The Allegory Ridge Poetry Anthology.