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Taking Root

a freedom bouquet—

scarlet gilia, blue larkspur,

and small white daisies—

may these flowers of the field

grow wild in your heart tonight

Dear America,

For your birthday, I’m sending you

the sunflowers in my garden,

which is to say, I send you

something unfinished,

something with so much room

left to grow.

America, I send you

the space above the sunflowers

a space they will reach into.

There is so much promise

of beauty in you, America,

so much blossoming yet to do.

America, you’re right if you think this is symbolic.

So I send you the sunflower’s roots, too.

We all know what happens without them.

America, here’s what I most want to say—

I believe in you, America, and all the hands

that tend your soil. Happy Birthday.

It’s time to get out of your own shade.

Happy Birthday. You’ve got this.  

Home of the brave.

Though it’s July, the grass is iced

from last night’s frost, and the heart-shaped leaves

of the pole beans hang limp and dead.

And so the chance to practice letting go.

It’s too bad, of course,

but the stakes are low.

It was only one row,

a handful of seeds,

a hankering for fresh green beans.

Not a livelihood. Not a child.

Not a hope. Not a dream.

Just a small row of leaves

that do what leaves do.

No one to point a finger at.

No one to pick a fight with.

Just this practice of meeting  

the world as it is. This chance to start again—

the work of the living.

Dear friends,

check it out … this week Ted Kooser, past US Poet Laureate, chose my poem for his weekly column–and if your town, like mine, is not having a parade this year, well, here’s one for you!

Still to Come

There will be a time when I will sit quietly

on the chair and feel no urgency to rise, to rush.

Won’t feel the crush of the unfinished list,

won’t feel late, overdue, behind. I may not

even know the time, won’t fear the tick of the clock

as an adversary. Perhaps I’ll even close my eyes

and lean back and let my limbs soften

like honey warmed in the sun.

An idea might come, but I’ll not try to capture it.

This isn’t laziness, no part of me will think so.

No, I’ll revel in the slowness, the unhurried day.

And I’ll remember, perhaps, a time when the ticking

felt like a bomb inside me. Where did it go,

I might wonder, as I pour myself another cup of tea,

the scent of bergamot citrusy and bright.

Hankering

Today again I thank the arugula

for the way it teaches me

that sharpness, too, is what

draws us in, that we come

not just to forgive

but to crave what is bitter,

what bites us back.

Prophecy

 

 

One day you will forget to question your worthiness.

No matter what door you walk through, even your own,

you will feel no need to apologize,

concede no need to defend.

You’ll set down your big suitcase of hope

and never ever open it again.

It will not matter if you are greeted by others

with kisses or with snarls, no, you will know

your own value the way milkweeds do,

which is to say, not at all.

Common as dandelions.

Complex as supernova.

Your worth will be that natural, that assumed.

 

 

At seven, I sat on a towel in front of the freezer

with the blow dryer, a sponge and a bucket

to earn money for a new plastic recorder.

Oh, how I wanted that reward.

So for hours, I switched the blow dryer

from one hand to the other, inwardly fussy,

wishing mom would just buy it for me.

How enormous the task seemed then.

When that brown recorder

finally came in a beige vinyl pouch,

I played “Hot Cross Buns” like I meant it.

I blew “Ode to Joy” in bright torture through the house,

and mangled “Mary Had a Little Lamb,”

but oh was I happy.

 

Now, scrubbing my parent’s refrigerator

I see how the tables have turned,

how the work becomes its own reward.

Decades of my parent’s love and sacrifice

bring me to this moment, when,

kneeling in front of the fridge,

sponge in hand, bucket beside me,

I feel like the luckiest woman alive,

Mom going through the cupboards beside me,

humming “Love is Blue,” perhaps a little out tune,

but oh, she is happy, so happy.

 

 

 

 

One Illumining

 

 

midnight walk

even my silence

reflects the moonlight

 

 

 

 

We ride on the rusty old bikes

in the swelter of June,

legs pumping, waving at strangers,

the wind making a kite

of our laughter—

 

The eight-year-old version of me

would never believe

about how happy we are—

she’s still ratting her brother out

to the recess guard.

 

But here we are, like two

young kids, playing in summer—

sticky hands and suntanned arms,

the years an ocean,

our love a boat.

 

 

 

 

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