I hadn’t seen Amy in years, but during a mini-reunion with old high school friends she asked about my poetry. “I still have the poem you wrote for me when my dad died,” she told me.

I didn’t remember writing the poem, but the idea that words, poetic words, would help connect me to a grieving friend sounded familiar. It’s how I still cope. Just last week as I was facing an anxious night myself, I pulled out a book of poetry a friend had given me. One after another I read through the verses.

Contrary to the stereotypical poet sequestered alone with a journal and a bottle of wine, poetry has always provided a way for me to reach out to others, to invite them into my life or join them in theirs.

When I was a teenager, I wrote love poems to God and shared them with my religious friends. I also wrote a love poem to the young man who was a student-teacher in our PE class for a semester—a schoolgirl crush exposed on paper. I wrote poems to read at church, and I wrote poems to my mom on special occasions.