The Gift, a poem by Julie Pratt at
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The Gift

The Gift

written by: Julie Pratt


“Only when we know our own darkness well
can we be present with the darkness of others.”
― Pema Chödrön, from The Places That Scare You

Its seduction was slow and smooth,
six-packs shared with a boy I knew,
lifting my spirit and numbing my woes.
Many years later I could not live
without it. Alarmed by blackouts,

I tried time and again to quit on my own,
but only fell deeper, torn down
the middle, half of me wanting
to take my life, the other half longing
to save it. One morning I woke,

sun warming my face through
an open window, chimes on the porch,
a quiver of hope, enticing me to trudge
just a little bit longer.
I found a room of survivors,

welcoming me into their family.
I absorbed their stories, cut a path
of my own, discovered a new way of living.
I came back to my self, but changed,
the cracked bell that still rings.

The only way to keep it is to give it away,
they said, and I do, whenever a woman
reaches out from the edge of despair,
seeking a sign of life worth living,
and I offer her my story.

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