Thursday, 1 December 2016

CAREGIFTED: Respite, Poetry and Other Gifts for the Caregiver Soul

Recently, I've had the pleasure of corresponding with a great champion of caregivers, the award-winning poet and founder of CareGifted, Heather McHugh.  Heather won a McArthur Fellowship and decided to create a charity that would fund respite holidays for caregivers. If you need a break, have a look at CareGifted's website to see if you qualify. 

To illustrate just how sensitive Heather is to the daily realities of caregiving, read her deeply moving poem.


Of life, par excellence, who is the scholar? 
Who marks its prosodies as she does, gifted to discern

How fates revise a partner's eyelights, or the muse retunes
a mother's groan?  Who else

could stand it, standing by,
or understanding all alone,

so many months of eye-blinks, years of minutes,
while a child must struggle for her wits

or elder for his breath?  How many learn to bear
The bearing down, while simultaneously

Bearing up?  And who will mark the tiny
Calibrations in the text, if not herself, himself, or you?

How many have such friends,
for the asking, for the tasking, for the end

of a long relentlessness?  All boundaries
are sounded there, beyond the daily

thoroughfares, or just above,
where caregivers at painful length refine

their feeling for the articles of fate we others
only hastily or late will grow awarer of.  And if,

mid-stress, there comes a bit
of stroke-struck luck, or half-

intelligible phrase, or single spoon a palsied child
delivers unassisted to her mouth!—whose joy

is greater then, than hers (whose help may long
have been thought better of)?  Of life it's not

her sacrifice we ought
 to celebrate: it is her love.

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