I wanted to share some poetry with you today. Poetry that is not just beautiful, but passionate, brave, and about pain that has no real description. All of these pieces were written by one woman named Ursula Frank, who was born in Aachen, Germany. Aachen was heavily damaged during both WWI and WWII, but is still well known for it’s beautiful Cathedral which dates back to the time of Charlemagne. Ursula’s poetry is heavily influenced by her experiences of living through not only a World War, but also surviving a battle with a debilitating illness that causes chronic pain called Central Pain Syndrome. The condition has left her only able to type with one hand, so much of her poetry is written in all capitals. I find her work incredibly inspiring, even with all she has been to she manages to create beauty from the pain. Ursula now lives in Indiana with her husband Phil, a computer expert.
WAR CHILD’S LOVE SONG
IN MY SEVENTIES, RHYMES STARTED TO FLOW—ONE OF THE PUZZLES OF LIFE, FOR I WAS NEVER INTERESTED IN POETRY. THIS COMPACT FORM ALLOWS THE READER WHO DOES NOT ENJOY LONG BOOKS ABOUT THE “GREAT WAR,” ALMOST FORGOTTEN AMONG SO MANY “LITTLE” WARS FOUGHT SINCE THEN, INTO MY LIFE.
WWII SHAPED AND TAUGHT ME. IT’S ALMOST FORCING MY HAND TO PRESENT THE MEMORIES IN A UNIQUE, COMPRESSED FORM.
THIS STORY IS NOT THE ORDINARY KIND—JUST THINKING OF IT MAKES ME LIGHT-HEARTED AND DEEPENS THE WRINKLES ON MY FACE WITH A FORLORN SMILE. IT’S ABOUT A LOVE BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, BORN IN A KISS—MY FIRST AND HIS LAST. I GREW OLD, BUT HE STAYED FOREVER YOUNG.
IN DREAMS, I HAVE RETURNED TO PAST LIVES. I HAVE BEEN “OVER THERE,” IN THE REALM OF THE DEPARTED, AND THEY HAVE VISITED ME HERE. GOD HAS ALLOWED ME TO GAIN RARE INSIGHT, JUST A SLIVER OF IT, FOR GOD ALONE KNOWS ALL.
LOVE IS ETERNAL
I HAD FOUND MY TRUE LOVE,
BUT WAR TOOK HIM FROM MY BREAST.
IN WILD DREAMS I SAW RIVERS OF BLOOD FLOWING FROM HIS CHEST.
MY WARM LIPS CAUGHT HIS LAST BREATH.
I AWOKE WITH A MOAN.
WAS IT HIS OR MY OWN?
HOW COULD I HAVE KNOWN?
OFFICIALLY THEY DECLARED HIM MISSING,
BUT HE WAS NOT LOST SOMEWHERE, I KNEW,
BUT WAITING FOR ME,
FOR MY OWN TIME TO COME DUE
TO GO WHERE I WAS DESTINED TO RESIDE:
MY OWN PLACE IN HEAVEN, CLOSE BY HIS SIDE.
WE WILL BE TOGETHER.
THIS TIME FOREVER.
I KNOW WHY I’M SO SAD TODAY, BECAUSE IT IS THE 10TH OF MAY
ON THE 10TH OF MAY MY MOTHER WAS BORN, ON A 10TH SHE PASSED AWAY.
ON A 10TH THEY SHOT MY HUSBABD DEAD
ON THE GREAT WAR’S BLOODIEST DAY.
THEY KNEW WHEN THEY FOUND HIM, HE WOULD NEVER BE WELL,
SO THEY LAID HIM TO REST AT “HENRI CHAPELLE.”
DURING HIS LAST LEAVE HE GAVE ME THE GUN
HE HAD SNATCHED IN ENEMY LAND.
ANOTHER TENTH IS UPON ME, AS I HOLD IT IN MY HAND.
IT FEELS SO COOL AND SOOTHING LIKE THE COMFORT OF A FRIEND,
BUT IN TRUTH I AM SO MUCH ALONE
I LET HIS GUN PULL ME TO MY END,
BECAUSE MY EARTHLY TROUBLE IS MORE THAN I CAN STAND
ON CENTRAL PAIN
CPS ALLIANCE BECAME OUR COMMON GROUND,
WHERE WE COMFORT AND UNDERSTANDING FOUND,
AN UNDERSTANDING MANY DOCTORS HAD DENIED.
OVER THEIR COLD TREATMENT FLOODS OF TEARS WERE CRIED.
INDEED, MANY PROFESSIONALS HAVE NOT PASSED THE TEST
TO DIAGNOSE WHAT AILS US, NOR DID THEY TRY THEIR BEST
TO PUT THE SYNDROME IN PUBLIC VIEW,
FROM WHICH DIE UNINFORMED COULD FINALLY DRAW A CLUE.
SO MANY DISEASES ARE PUBLICIZED,
THEIR URGENCY BROUGHT BEFORE THE PUBLIC’S EYES.
WHY DID CENTRAL PAIN STAY MISDIAGNOSED AND MISUNDERSTOOD
BY THE MEDICAL PROFESSION’S BROTHERHOOD?
INDEED, IT IS TIME WE WERE FINALLY HEARD
AND THE CONSCIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE OF DIAGNOSTICIANS STIRRED
MOST OF US KNOW THAT FOR OUR PAIN
THE SOURCE IS NOT SOUGHT DEEP IN THE BRAIN.
WE MAY BE DEALING WITH AN ANCIENT BAIN
AND CAN ASSUME OUR FOREFATHERS SUFFERED THE SAME
BURNING, CRAWLING, NERVE SHATTERING SENSATION
LEADING TO MISERY AND SUICIDAL DEPRESSION.
HOWEVER, WE HAIL THE DOCTORS WHO SOMEHOW UNDERSTAND
AND STAUNCH OUR SUFFERING WITH A PIONEER’S HAND.
SO MUCH STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE IN THE MEDICAL FIELD
BEFORE EXPLORATION OF CPS RESULTS WILL LEAD.
IN THE MEANTIME, CPS ALLIANCE GIVES US CONSOLATION
THROUGH OUR EXCHANGE OF PERTINENT INFORMATION.
I DON’T WANT TO FORGET THE SUFFERING FOLKS WE MET,
THE FRIENDSHIPS WE BUILT OVER THE INTERNET.
I FEEL SUCH FONDNESS FOR THEM ALL
FOR I KNOW THE IMPACT THIS OBSCURE SYNDROME’S TOLL.
the way I fell
in my beautiful garden, where birds abound,
and squirrels glide smoothly from trees to ground
in the early morning hours a bright sun shone
on unknown pitfalls for me to come
quite early, the scene of the worst fall I had
occurred because I was scantily clad
in a flimsy, rather sexy nightgown
I stumbled and fell clumsily down.
the first thought that quickly came to me
was the fear that someone would be able to see
my figure in the grass so helplessly.
I looked for something to steady me
to get up from a seductive position unwanted,
oh, how soon I knew what a problem I confronted.
how in the world could I have been so dumb
to try and fill the bird bath on the run?
it was wobbly and would never sustain
a woman in physical and emotional pain.
I could stay here forever without being found
since all my neighbors were workward bound.
and while I have a husband, he was not in the house.
it so happened he was taking a vacation down south.
the second thought was swift and clear:
how in the world will I get up from here?
in utter misery I looked up at the sky
and realized the crepe myrtle was not too high
to lend at the vertical a possible chance.
hopefully I grabbed its lowest branch.
yet for the propping up needed to get back on my feet
the branch was too high to serve my need.
I could only dangle from it, alas,
but my lower legs would not move off the grass.
I tried pulling upwards, for how could I stay
laying half exposed in an indecent way?
I did not want to explain to anyone
why I was prone in the garden with my nightgown on.
I felt my strength waning, it was all for naught,
my mind busy at work, transmitted that thought.
but as I hung there, I heard a voice as clear
as in my dreams, where it often is near.
“try one more time”, it firmly said.
was it the answer to the mumbled words I prayed?
suddenly heartened, I tried, but could not believe
that from my plight I could myself retrieve.
one last pull and upright I stood.
with all my heart I gave thanks to God.
exhausted, yet feeling suddenly light
only a God-sent gave me the strength for my fight.
in my dreams the voice often said
words as answers to problems I had.
in the future, I knew, I would never
feed our birds in my nightgown ever.