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Written after Ellen Bass’s poem of the same name.

To trust life, that is the thing.
To trust it even when there are gaping holes
in the walls of your certainty.
To trust it even when your foundation
feels like a strange place filled with strange people
who all feel more at home in you than you do.
And when fear enters you like a bear in your basement,
or like three bears, all of them famished,
all of them rummaging through your emergency stores,
yes, when fear offers to give you its name,
when fear brings you a ladder and says, Here,
climb down into yourself, into this chamber
of strangers and bears,
when you would rather go anywhere but in,
that is when you step onto the rungs and go down,
one rung at a time. No gun in your hand.
No bear spray. No knife. There is honey
in here somewhere. And tea. So much here
to offer these hungriest parts of yourself.
And you are ready to make peace.
You are ready to meet them and share.

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer earned an MA in English Language and Linguistics from University of Wisconsin—Madison. She teaches poetry for 12-step recovery programs, hospice, mindfulness retreats, women’s retreats and more. Her poetry has appeared in O Magazine, on A Prairie Home Companion and Her most recent collection, Naked for Tea, was a finalist for the Able Muse Book Award.

Ellen Bass is an American poet, and co-author of The Courage to Heal.

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