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Jess Clark is a London-based poet, writer, and workshop facilitator. She takes inspiration from pearls of light within every life. Moved and motivated by the resilience of the human spirit and the astonishing capacities that we demonstrate to heal ourselves and each other, even amongst experiences of pain. Jess Clark often gets carried away when writing, tapping into a feeling of rhythm and filling up pages with wordplay and a quest to articulate truth. These two shorter poems, ‘Early Morning Grief’ and ‘View Backwards’, explore the respective themes of grief and growth. They distill her own relationship with complex emotions, self-nurture, and moving forwards in life.

Early Morning Grief

Burning to live in a burning world,
the way lit up by love and friends,
waking at five a.m. in the pre-dawn, curled
foetally with frozen toes, mind running over loose ends…

Stories untied, that flutter inside me
where icicles grow in my throat and nose.
Blankets and pillow-dreams now can’t hide me
from Pandora’s boxes I’ve lost the keys to close

here where no light shows, bar between the curtains
the breaking day sliver: a lone grey crack.
Five fifty – time moving – but me still uncertain
caught between open eyelids and closing them to look back.

Where do people go after they die?
What happens to the thoughts they kept unshared?
Just energy passed on between the earth and sky,
kindling to the flames in souls of those who cared.

Well-prepared, well-slept, or neither – morning still rises
tugging at the roots of trees in this nocturnal mind;
blessings can come in all sorts of disguises
but you can’t see them if you’re only looking down or behind.

There is kindness and beauty dawning on your horizon,
people you’ve not met yet, who will enrich your heart,
daytime has come… There’s so much to feast your eyes on,
aglow with the guidance of those absent: you were never truly apart.

View Backwards

You scarcely see the summit, hardly register your climb
‘til you realise that your plummets have grown softer over time.
Like you only noted footfall when self-scolding for a slip…
Now, what once was a black hole seems a more infrequent dip
and your skin is glowing healthier, your face more often smiles;
The legs which ached and chained you down are stronger, walking miles.
Remember red exhausted eyes, with little rest from tears?
The thunder’s more like showers now – a rain which comes, then clears.
So bent are you on tackling this next section of the track
that rarely do you drink the view: your progress, looking back
and only when you do so, then you notice with surprise
your starting point’s so far below that you need to squint your eyes.
Eyes which couldn’t register your growth, or all the corners turned,
slow changes in the dark and light, through coping lived and learned.
I know tonight your body’s tired, and your mind feels fit to burst
but you can handle this – you’ve been through so much worse.