Singing Over the Bones

Dear Friends, Poets and Dreamers,

Although illness, mental or physical, creates great suffering, this unexpected muse can be positive, as days, weeks, and months spent healing allow us to reflect and reset our lives. In the words and wisdom of Rumi, “If you desire healing, let yourself fall ill, let yourself fall ill.”

Like poetry,
illness forces stillness,
as time slows to the rhythm
of a resting heart,
every breath a stanza,
every heartbeat a rhyme,
whilst the world outside
fades to a whisper.

And yet,
inside our quilted cocoons,
we hurriedly repair
the frayed threads
of our well-being,
yearning for the weight of bone,
as we fear our bodies
may slip away.

On nightstands,
rearranged altars of hope,
the detritus of healing
covers every inch;
empty cups, books,
tissues, medications,
bottles of water,
teddy bears and phones.

Eyes closed,
we hear a song rise,
singing over the bones,
calling us to knit
our flesh and spirit
back into wholeness,
and the wild energetic creatures
we once were.

Healing begins
as we learn to surrender,
breathe life
into what has been silenced,
hear our soul sing
a hymn of restoration,
whilst illness embraces
our deepest fears.

Blessings always,



© Deborah Gregory 2024
Image: ‘Singing Over the Bones’ by Lucy Campbell

10 thoughts on “Singing Over the Bones

  1. Dear Deborah – it’s so good to see you back here again and I hope that your break from blogging and social media has helped bring clarity and healing to your mind and body. Illness is such a great equaliser – we all have to face it at different times in our lives and I have found that all of the small things that I spend too much time worrying about (the small stuff) just fade away as the focus narrows on just me in my own cocoon when I am unwell.

    Your poem describes this so well – I had to smile at your description of a bedside table, it’s so true! The phrase Singing Over the Bones rang bells for me and then I realised it was mentioned by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Women Who Run With Wolves:

    “La Loba sings over the bones she has gathered. To sing means to use the soul-voice. It means to say on the breath the truth of one’s power and one’s need, to breathe soul over the thing that is ailing or in need of restoration…That is singing over the bones.” The image you’ve used works so well with your words and the title so well with the challenges of illness. Thank you Deborah and many blessings for a full recovery to you.

    1. Thank you so much Sophia for your kind-hearted and insightful reply! I didn’t know that I would need a long break but I clearly did, and I’m so pleased I took one because in doing so, I’m returning to my blog clear-headed and rested. Yesss, what a great equaliser illness is! When it arrived several weeks ago, initially I also felt the ‘small stuff’ slip away, opting to surrender to the process which wasn’t easy and some would say dangerous for the ego!

      Within days I realised that I would need to release lots of stuff no longer relevant to my life and the person I am today … so not only did drawers and cupboards get opened and several pots, pans, books and coats found themselves being donated, but through regular journaling I found ways to open up my heart and mind and release lots of other things during that time … people and situations that needed to be ‘recycled’ or ‘let go with love’.

      La Loba, of course, I forgot all about Her, despite the image (above) titled, ‘Singing Over the Bones’ too. I completely missed this connection so thank you for pointing that out. So, I’m replying having watched a couple of videos all about Her story. What a great quote, thank you! The song I heard in the depths of my illness helped me knit my flesh and spirit back together and transform into the laughing / crying woman I am. Love and light, Deborah.

  2. Dearest Deborah,
    I’m sure many others will also feel this poem was written just for them. Since I’ve never had breathing or heart problems, it was confusing and sometimes frightening to experience a pounding heart and shortness of breath when lying still. It’s hard to rest when the heart is running a secret race. I was grateful to have Disco near me and also grateful to have my son ready to drive me to medical appointments and once to the emergency room. He also made soup. My physician’s assistants never gave up searching for a way to help me out of the labyrinth.
    I love causes and no one could name a cause after months of testing and searching. The pulmonologist guesses I was infected by a non-Covid virus that can build slowly in the body and last for months. I felt ready to die as I gasped for breath, but my body wanted to hang in the middle–weak, but not dying. I was forced into inactivity, but the heart and breath would not, could not, be still.
    Most of us are not good at allowing illness to have Her way. I think of Marion Woodman who fought for life a few times. She suffered so in ‘Bone,’ but at some point her body decided to dance. Your description of the nightstand is perfect.
    I felt like a butterfly caught in a chrysalis, but I doubt the butterfly experiences anxiety about its body. It just surrenders to the process which is what I’m learning to do. I missed you and I’m glad you’re back–and I hope the answers you seek will come to your questions and clarity will show up in our suffering world. Sending you love across the pale green oak tops. Those trees have faith.

    1. Thank you so much dearest Elaine for the beauty and depth of your reply. Deep gratitude for letting me know that my poem speaks directly to you as I’m hopeful this will speak to others too whether they’re suffering physically or emotionally, or both. ‘It’s hard to rest when the heart is running a secret race’ whoa, never stop writing my wonderful friend! I’m so pleased you have Disco, your warm and cuddly soul companion, close to hand, and of course Anthony, who lives close by. Hats off to your medical team too for all their patience and persistence.

      You describe well the fear of facing death. How frightening it must’ve been for you! Please know that despite me taking a blogging break, I’ve been following your healing journey closely these past six months which certainly played a part in inspiring me to write this poem. My own health scare back in January is changing my world as I pause to reflect and reset my life with many a life-changing decision I’m still working through. All these months later I expect the answers I’m searching for will arrive, as I replied to Susan, in their own time, and not mine.

      On my own nightstand, there were half-eaten slices of toast, as my appetite disappeared, hence the fear of my body floating away. Yess, it’s like ‘a butterfly’ caught in a chrysalis’ … hmm, I wonder if there’s any room in your new book to include this time as there are so many parallels to a butterfly’s metamorphosis and the unexpected muse that illness often becomes. Surrender is key I’ve realised too with lived experiences being more valuable than any book or academic knowledge. Sending love and light across the oceans and oak tops between us, Deborah.

  3. I was wondering about you the other day Deborah – so it is re-assuring to see that you’re alive and well, wolfing around in the woods. All my favourite images are displayed in your choice of art work.

    If there were answers and solutions to everything, life would be a great big bore and yawn. But golly, it can also be blooming difficult to see no end in sight. And to realise that life IS difficult.

    I’ve been awol for a long time. It will probably continue. But know that I think of you and have only your best at heart at all times. With love, susan

    1. ‘Wolfing around the woods’ … oh, how you’ve made me laugh this morning, my lovely friend! I love Lucy’s symbolic artwork too with its mother wolf, guiding owl, blindfolded woman, all ‘singing over the bones’ … illuminating the loss of ‘out’ sight as the Crone (this is how I see the woman) turns to ‘in’ sight.

      Thank you so much dear Susan for reassuring me that the answer I’ve been seeking for months will come in its own time, not mine. I miss you too, very much, and have thought of you often these past few months. Please know I’m always here scribbling away in the background, if needed. Love and light, Deborah.

  4. I hear you, your voice, from far away, like from deep in the woods, and yet, I read your beautiful and profound poem, encouraged me, and gave me the needed positive feeling to hope. Welcome back!
    PS; I already try it on my phone!

    1. Aww, thank you so much for your wonderful welcome back Aladin! All I know is that I’ve been on a healing journey of late where instead of the stumbles and tumbles of life tripping me up, I’ve been learning funky new moves! Love and light, Deborah.

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