Friday, April 20, 2012

A Follow-up Poem: Hooked

I could not let this comment get buried in my blog. I expect it could have been written by many of my readers, and I expect many of my readers will also deeply relate to the poem shared by this reader.

Here are my reader's words in response to my post A Morning Poem, followed by my response to her.


Someone heard this poem on the radio and told me it reminded them of my life. I hunted it down somewhere and I cried the first time I read it. It still reminds me of my life, even more so since surviving my own bout with cancer:


By Orval Lund
For Kent Cowgill

A trout sometimes leaps up
right out of the water
to take your fly, then dives
for rock, log, weeds, ledge,
anything shading sun
in its clear waterworld,
slicing your line in wild

geometry, hurling
its body into air
against your arcing rod.
Sometimes – face it – you end
life by taking it in hand
and cracking its head
so you can taste its gold,

but most of the time
you hold its silver
and release your death
from its jaw, full of awe
as it lies stunned on silt,
slips back into
its skin, vanishes.

It’s then you wonder why
you’re a creature who eats life
but also plays it in hand.
O Lord, help me to feel
The hook that plays me.
But so many times,
so many times, lets me go.

Thank you, thank you for sharing this poem, both arresting and liberating...........may you have years and years ahead of you being truly alive, with gratitude for today and a clear awareness of your place in it.

Cancer survivorship, being let go, maybe even again, offers us that opportunity, that gift.

Diana :)

If you wish to listen to this poem, it has also been read by Garrison 
Keillor on The Writer's Almanac, twice in fact, in both 1997 and 2000

I wonder how many of us, cancer survivor, life survivor, have such a 
touchstone, such a crystalizing moment. I remember mine like it was 
only an instant ago. It came like the sun finally breaking through the storm. 
After two weeks of crying over 'just everything', I realized I was giving cancer 
a chance to kill me twice. I instantly accepted that cancer might (maybe 
yes, but maybe not, but it might) kill me in the future, because I suddenly, 
finally, saw that I was allowing my fears of that possibility to ruin today, 
and tomorrow, and the next day. Well! Wow! Ok, now! Hmmm, I was not 
going to let that  happen, and I 'woke up', healed and alive and grateful 
for that moment, and all to come. 

It all sounds so simple, so logical, in retrospect. There is nothing simple, 
nothing 'logical' about the journey of cancer survivorship. I haven't met 
many survivors who just picked themselves up, put their glasses back on, 
and kept striding forward as if nothing had happened. 

I do not know how to advise or help anyone find their own touchstone, 
their own sudden awakening to the possibilities in life, losing fear of death, 
gratitude for all that is in-between. Mine did not come by reading a poem, 
but I can see how it could. Poems give us the richness of life, the 
possibilities of life, the courage for life, and hope, in as few words as possible. 

Which reminds me of the poem on the wall, right at the doorway to the 
chemo rooms at Evanston Hospital (IL) where I had my chemo in 1984-85. 
I always stopped to read it before walking into that room, finding a tiny bit 
of hope and courage in my heart:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words, 
And never stops at all,

This is just the first stanza of Emily Dickinson's poem Hope, all that was printed
and framed. However, you can read the rest of the poem here.  When our 
bluebirds perch outside my bedroom window singing in the morning, later 
flying around our farm, letting me peek into their box (one egg!!), my heart is 
singing with both happiness and hope. 

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row, poem by poem,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

PS - sorry about all the weird formatting above - blogger is changing things that I don't have time to figure out. When I do have time to finally get all my blogs and website consolidated and reviewed, that will be a huge thing 'off my plate'!. :)


Maru said...


Maru here. Wow, I am so honored by your response. And I am always thrilled to have a super-survivor like yourself bless me while I'm coming up behind you.

During my chemo, wearing my best head scarf, I went to see a documentary by film maker Barbara Hammer about her own cancer survival. I got to meet her one afternoon when she was in my town for the film's showing. "Pass me the torch!" I said to her, and she mimed coming across the room with a torch in her hands and giving it to me. We were both laughing, but we meant it, too.

Honestly, in both your case and hers I really feel like I am pulled in your wake. And that I'll have to do this for someone else in turn.

To our health!

Maru said...

Correction: Barbara Hammer is an experimental film maker, not a documentary film maker. But her film, "A Horse is Not a Metaphor", is about her cancer experience.

Diana Dyer said...

My one over-arching goal for writing my book and sharing so much about myself was to help others have a cancer journey less difficult than my own have been. I may have created the wake, but you are now doing the work, following the premise of "Active Hope" that my book promotes to increase the odds for both length of life and quality of life after a cancer diagnosis.

Thanks for sharing so much of your own cancer story, which is sure to be inspirational to many, also. It is to me. :)