Me, one month before my trauma occurred in 1981.

So often in my post-trauma experience I just didn’t have the words for what I felt — either about my trauma or afterward. It was as if my brain could only go so far and then it hit a wall in being able to conceptualize, accept and communicate what was going on in my head.

And then I discovered poetry.

Becoming a poet was the beginning of my healing. It gave me a way to express what chaotically tumbled inside. My first post-trauma poem, Before the World Intruded, was about my enormous desire to start my life over. The poem has been included in the Library of Congress Poetry 180 Program and also in the Poetry Society of America’s Poetry in Motion program in Dallas, TX. Originally written in 1999, it’s had a long life, which just goes to show you how we can take something out of ourselves and make it meaningful to many others.

Anais Nin said, “Poetry is the description of an intangible state.”

Traumatic experience (and afterward) is so often an intangible state. Why not turn to the art of the intangible for solace, comfort and a tool for navigating the maze? Why not write, or simply read, in a form that is geared toward speaking the unspeakable?


Return me to those infant years
before I woke from sleep,  

when ideas were oceans crashing,
my dreams blank shores of sand.  

Transport me fast to who I was
when breath was fresh as sight,  

my new partsunfragmented—
shielded faith from unkind light.  

Draw for me a figure whole,
so different from who I am.  

Show me now this picture: 
who I was when I began.  

Copyright ©1999 Michele Rosenthal.  All rights reserved