Our Reflect Series explores the written works of theologians, poets and other wisdom-keepers in search of insight and inspiration. This week’s selection is the 2020 winner of our annual Poetry of the Sacred Contest. Read more past winners here.

Wintered Over

By Lisa Breger

Water carries sunlight along a narrow twisting stream;
sunlight glitters on the water’s back
light among dark trees.
I watch a hawk in the distance glide the thermals
rise and circle the open space over Lake Cochituate.
Soon it will be lilac season
among other kindnesses.
To have weathered this harsh winter
didn’t take courage or strength
though the lilacs are hardy
and the season brings forth.
How can I have nothing to say about this;
a survivor always has a story.
Maybe you just keep on living
even when the odds are against you
A nurse brings a saucer of milk to your lips
and the cat in you,
how many lives now,
takes a swallow.
Then, you lift a hand and take her hand,
another sip,
and lift yourself up
which is what I remember.
Transplanted stem cells find their way back to the marrow.
I was neither strong nor brave.
I stayed in bed and looked out the window.
Some days the old oaks across the way swayed in the wind
other days: stillness and birds.
I don’t know why I made it.
Don’t we all have a fierce desire
to see a hummingbird
drink from the trumpet vine?