Poem for Sage on her birthday

When Sage turned two I tried my hand at spoken word poetry. It’s not something I had ever done before that, and I’ve only played with it a little bit since. But, I think about that poem almost every year as she gets older.

This week, when Sage turned eight I decided to go back and do a bit of editing and revision on that old piece of poetry.

This was the result…

As a smudge stick

Native Americans have an old ritual, 
they call it smudging - not a great name I know. 
But by it, they cleanse a space, 
A room, 
a person. 
And they do it with sage. 
That sweet tasting treasure of the Italian's, 
That herb whose name means 'to heal', 
of which one writer in the 1500's said
"such is the virtue of sage 
that if it were possible, 
it would make a man immortal.” 
And so they take this herb, 
This magical sage 
And bundle the leaves together into a stick 
The smudge stick 
And they light it aflame, 
And squelch the fire.
The smoke rises up, 
circling its way around the space, 
driving out the negative, 
the undesired, 
the evil, 
trading it for the sweet smell of leaves grown out of earth 
leaves given life by the light of the sun. 
You, Sage, have been for me as a smudge stick 
you burn and yet you cleanse. 
2920  days you have been with me. 
2920  roller-coaster days 
Days filled with fear
Surrounded by diagnosis after diagnosis. 
Seasons changing in the blink of an eye
Days of weary bones,
Nights of aching muscles
And moments, 
every moment 
Bursting with tenderness. 
Into this your fragrance penetrates 
The cleansing smoke of your sweet presence rises up,
Fills the space 
The sweet fragrance of your soul
Does it’s work 
The same work of the herb by which you’re named
To drive out, to eradicate, To replace and fill. 
To heal. 
And while your mother panics 
And your father fights 
You smile. 
Out of large curious eyes
a soul filled with stardust shines
Fresh, like herb crushed between fingers,
Like babies just opening their eyes
Like the swell of sunlight as it first breaks over the horizon. 
And though wordless 
you sing, 
A song of beauty and hope 
a song of praise. 
Praise for the one who hears the cries of the wordless. 
Praise for the one who runs to the immobile. 
Praise for the one who set the stars in their place 
and guards the souls 
of those who cannot guard themselves. 
Praise for the darkness and the light. 
Praise for the little girl I asked not to have. 
For by you, 
By the twinkle of knowing in your eyes, 
And the smile that dances across your lips 
God has blown holy smoke into my soul 
And healing fragrance has come into all our lives.

Grace and peace,

Bethany Stedman