April 22, 2021

Listen to This: A Collective Poem

Listen to This

It reminded me of you.
It reminded me of me—
we’re not so different.

It reminded me of how we’ve been
feeling lately. It reminded me that I
have not been listening to you

properly. It reminded me that we’ve
not been listening to each other, properly
and maybe if we stopped,

paused and breathed
deeply, that could change. I
wish I could’ve remembered,

before the world was crashing into
us. I remembered that remembering
is an act of practice. Vulnerability, more

important than we know. Remembering
is an act of care. Born
out of our shared beginnings

and common vulnerabilities
in meter and in verse. Sometimes,
we remember what we wish

had happened. I wish
I heard you better.
Listen to this,

I need your help. And I
imagine that you need mine,
too. Listeners make pain and hardship

bearable. And it reminds us that we’re not
alone. Oh, how sweet
is your realness, your vulnerability.

How sweet it is to be
heard. And how sweet it is
to hear you and know you.

Sit with me as we
face adversity together.
Your presence is a privilege.

You welcome me, you embrace me. You
give me the courage to share.

Listen to this, for I believe
that we are all afraid.
And listen to this even

if it’s silence. I used to fear
silence, but now you make it sound sweet.
Every feeling

has clarity when you listen.
Listen to this, can you hear it?
Listen to this. It is the sound

of the sun on the pines.
Listen to this. It is the sound of a rainbow
being formed outside as we speak.

The rainbow has many colors and yet
we can still listen to it and see its beauty.
We are not so different

from the rainbow. We could be
an amalgamation of different
experiences. Listen to this.

–Spoken into collective being by the L&C Narrative Scribes, February 26, 2021

How does our experience—and delivery—of care change when we understand listening as an act of co-creation? To answer this question, Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative created Narrative Scribe Training, a new curriculum which builds on the narrative medicine practices of listening and witnessing.  Signal & Noise: Scribing in the Margins and piloted in February 2021 with 66 Lewis & Clark undergraduate participants from public health, social science, and humanities courses. This poem was created in real-time as the final exercise in listening together. Participants were invited to contribute a line or a phrase until the whole was written.  

Funded by a four-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and housed at the Center for Community and Global Health, Narrative Scribe Training is part of the college’s community-based Healing Social Suffering through Narrative program and will be offered annually through 2024.