Longing to Be Seen

after the painting “The Bedroom” by Vincent van Gogh and the piano composition “Yellow Bed” by Kayleen Asbo

In the tilted room with the yellow bed,
hope waltzes on the wooden floor—
one, two, three, one, two, three—
not that you see it there,
it’s not obvious like the windows,
the paintings, the mirror, the pitcher, the chairs.
Hope is what you don’t see.
But there it is, beside the water glasses,
beside the long towel, swaying so keenly
to snatches of melody
that the whole room seems to sway.
And it’s one, two, three,
one, two, three; Who, hope says,
will dance with me? It promises
friendship. It promises rest.
Will you dance? it asks, a dizzy mess.
It promises community. It promises fame.
Will you dance? it asks, but it smells
of paint and faraway dreams.
It smells of madness and longing to be seen.
Will you dance? it says, its arms flung out.
Here is where Vincent said yes.
Some see a still life, but others see
the whirling, the twirling, the beautiful
spinning of hope, reeling hope, fragile hope.

Explore mindfulness and writing in a monthly online community. Join me and my fabulous co-host Augusta Kantra for inspiration, connection and heart-awakening conversation in Soul Writers Circle. We have several openings for our fourth season. It’s a six-month commitment to yourself and the group, a chance to find support in endeavors that are often solitary. Our new season begins July 17. Let’s play!

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By Chance

for Andrea Bird

A person, once a stranger,
can slip into your life,
unplanned, of course,
as if brought by the wind
in much the same way
a seed of spotted saxifrage
can slip by happenstance
into a crack in a rock
then root and grow.
Eventually, the saxifrage
will split the rock open.
By then, it will be full,
its flowers prolific
and beautiful.
If you are lucky,
this once stranger
will do in time
the same to you—
will be alive in you,
crack you open
with their beauty,
make you grateful
to be so broken.

     inspired by Landscape at Auvers in the Rain by Vincent van Gogh and Rain at Auvers by Kayleen Asbo

Sometimes when it rains
I forget it will ever stop raining.
The rain, it falls,
it falls for days, it falls,
and the rain becomes
a metric imperative,
insistent as a stop watch,
familiar as the pulsing
of blood in the heart,
a throbbing, a beat so adamant
I forget any other tune.
Did you forget, Vincent,
the rain would stop?
Did you feel its urgency
as boldly as you painted
the long diagonal strokes?
I can’t look at your painting
without feeling inside me the rain,
feel it slant across my world
in thick dark lines.
I can’t look at the purples
and yellows of Auvers
without remembering how three days
after you painted them,
you would take your life.
But how could I vilify the storm
even knowing what I do?
You found in the tumult
You fueled the dampened, darkened world
with ecstatic gold.
You didn’t push the storm away, Vincent.
You let it drench you.
You shared with us all
how struggle, too,
is so terribly beautiful.

In a Difficult Time

If the eyes
can adjust
to the dark,
the iris expanding
the pupil
as wide
as possible
to open to light
and enhance
then dear
heart, how
might you,
too, adjust?

My heart races like a plane
traveling 575 miles per hour
to a country beset with flooding
landslides and significant damage
to roads, homes and buildings.
I watch myself rise from the table
and start to pace the house.
Are you really going to freak out?
I ask myself. I watch myself act out the answer.
Anxiety rushes in, bringing with it
the detritus of recent trauma.
I can’t lose another child, I think.
The idea floats atop wave after wave of fear.
You’re not being rational, says the mind,
but the adrenal medullas above my kidneys
start pumping hormones into the bloodstream,
And I pace the rooms of the house
as panic rises in me like tropical rainwater
gushing over riverbanks.
I hear an inner voice that says,
Even if she is not okay,
you will be able to meet whatever comes.  
But I do not want to.
My lungs can’t get enough air.
I want promises she will be safe.
I want guarantees she will be protected
from harm. I want her wrapped in my arms.
My friends says, There are a lot of other mothers
in the world for our babies,
And I think of how I trust
the woman my daughter is with.
I think how I trust my daughter.
But the world, can I trust the world?
My friend listens when I tell her
I have never been a worrier,
but now I know too well the stakes.
She says to me,
You are not the same woman you were.
In that moment, I sit in the lap
of the truth, and though I don’t like it,
it comforts me, holds me
the way I wish I could hold my daughter.
I am a woman who knows
what it is to lose a child.
And I am a woman who
has been carried by love
when I could not carry myself.
I notice the panic and do not wish it away.
Of course it is here.
I feel cradled by my humanness.
I breathe out and in, out and in.
find the current in my breath—
sometimes a torrent, sometimes a stream.
I let myself ride on it.

One Kindred

singing for hours—
our aching hearts

One Resonance

dancing under stars—
these living bones
made of old stars

I find myself storing up on light
   the way picas store summer grass—
     leaving it out to dry
       in front of their rocky homes.

I store light in poems,
   in photographs. I stand
     bare skinned in the sun
       and store it in memories.

There will be a day five months from now
   when I will desperately want to remember
     how it feels to stand naked
       in the field, held by the warmth

of the sun. So I stand naked in the field,
   and if I were a pica, there would be
     in front of my door a stack
       of golden rays and a dozen

long and sun-drenched days
   and the scent of an almost rain.
     I know the winter is long. I remember.
       I gather more light, more light.

One Lackluster

ransacking the stars—
surely some of that shine
will stick to me?

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