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The Thing Is

 

after Ellen Bass

 

 

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 ladders 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.

One Renewal

 

 

eavesdropping on my own heart

surprised to hear your heart beating

Reverie

 

 

In the pond, it is easy to let go of the paddle,

to let the wind move my little boat

wherever it will. I feel no need to change direction,

no sense that one way is better than another,

no attachment to arriving on any shore.

 

All around me, dragonflies skim bluely above the water.

Cotton drifts through the air like midsummer snow.

Robins sing their simple song. In this moment,

somehow unstitched from the calendar,

everything seems possible—like a woman

 

who feared she could not love could do so.

And a day could open in surprising ways,

new worlds spilling into this familiar world.

And a chapter could be written inside another

so that we would never, ever get to the end.

 

 

 

Just as the sun enters the room

and changes the feel, the warmth,

and the power to perceive,

 

the right word, too,

can be a beam, can shine

into an evening, bring

 

glimmer, tidings of light,

make even the darkest corners

shine. Yes even one word

 

can become a prayer,

a gate we pass through

to find ourselves luminous.

 

Wish

 

for my father

 

 

And when at last

the healing comes,

may it come like the rain

after a long drought,

so soft that at first

you aren’t sure

it is raining,

but the fragrance

overcomes you,

green and wet,

and the world

looks dewy and

you feel it in your lungs.

Yes, may the healing

arrive on the edge

of perception

and then feel

wholly present,

as today when the rain turned

long and steady,

the kind that slowly

saturates and changes everything

so quietly that

you almost don’t remember

what it was like before

and everywhere you look,

all you see is promise.

 

One Boundary

 

for parents of teenagers everywhere

 

 

planting flowers

all along the fence—

the fence is no less sturdy

 

Wild Rose Says No

 

 

 

it just rolls off her tongue.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

The phone rings. She doesn’t

answer. A knock at the door.

She doesn’t rise. Unless

she wishes to. When she gets to work

and they say, Can you, please,

she says, Thank you. No.

When offered another job,

she says, No. Asked to lead

a committee, join a board,

volunteer, she says

no, no, no, no, no.

And smiles.

It’s not hard.

It rhymes with grow.

That night, in the mirror

she looks at herself

and says yes. That smile

on her face leaps

out of the reflection

and asks her to dance.

They sway

in the light of the moon.

 

One Surrender

 

 

hijacked by the moon

my heart stops trying to know better

and lets the light drive

One Patience

 

 

 

desperate for shade—

I plant a sapling,

bring it water

 

 

 

I decided to take

the invitation seriously.

Nothing changed.

I made breakfast.

Went to work.

Walked.

Made a date

to speak with a friend.

Swore at the magpie

that dive bombed

my head. Ate popcorn

for lunch.

Made plans

for four months from now.

Took vitamins.

Drank green tea.

Watered the seeds

planted yesterday.

Talked to the seeds,

encouraged them to grow.

Read a book, stopped

at the penultimate chapter.

Some things are better

left unfinished.

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