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How to Slice Open an Avocado

 

 

After cutting open hundreds, thousands

of avocados, I marvel as my friend Kyra

cuts off the top. Slices it right off.

And I stare at her, at the knife, at the tip

of the avocado listing on the cutting board.

How easily she scoops out the creamy green flesh.

How simply she cuts more rounds around the pit.

 

All these years, I’ve sliced avocados lengthwise.

It’s as if I’ve just learned a new word for yes.

As if the sun itself just rose right here in the kitchen.

It takes so little to open us, to help us

see everything new. Even that prayer I pray

the same way. These hands. This common fruit.

Let’s Get Drunk

 

 

 

The Sufis had it right—

the day is a glass of wine.

It matters not what kind

of vessel it’s poured into—

chipped clay or crystal

or wooden cup. There

is divinity in it regardless—

the chance to dance alongside

the rational, logical self

and fall in love. It brings

the potential for bliss,

for persuasiveness, for imagination,

for spontaneous and riotous

laughter. And you, perhaps,

like I, are beginning to realize

just how dry the mouth,

just how thirsty the heart.

 

 

How It Goes with Hope

Eventually a burning hope
becomes ember, becomes glow,
becomes gone.
Whatever fuel it found
is spent, is done, is ash.
Not that you blame hope
for losing its brilliance.
More that you become
increasingly intimate with what is.
What is is an absence. What is
doesn’t sit in your lap. What is
doesn’t come to the door.
What is is very quiet.
But there is, if not hope,
a tenderness that lingers,
a tenderness that has a glow
of its own, a tenderness
that you carry with you
until it becomes you,
a warmth, a golden light
there when you fall asleep,
still there when you rise.
*
(note: sweet friends, thank you for all the emails and even the lovely letter about the loss of our cat, Otter. I didn’t mean to leave you hanging. She has not returned, and I am quite sure she met a predator. But my dear friend Jack gave me the sweetest advice: Please, when you are ready, begin to—maybe for only a minute—carry Otter in your body. That invitation a couple weeks ago was the basis for the feeling that evolved into this poem. And here it is, evidence of the small ways that we help each other as we carry grief. Thank you all. Thank you.)

 

 

deep desert canyon of the heart—

it remembers when

it was ocean

 

 

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Come play! January 22 in Telluride, Colorado, at the Ah Haa School

A drawing and poetry class with Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and Meredith Nemirov

Everyone has a “cherished object,” perhaps one from childhood that elicits memories from times past, or perhaps something more recently purchased that brings joy and pleasure. In this class, we’ll explore them and see what they have to teach us. It’s part of a long tradition: Poets write odes—consider that famous Grecian urn or Pablo Neruda’s socks. And artists practice the still life—Giorgio Morandi spent a lifetime painting one group of vases!

For a day, give yourself over to the inner magic of things (“no ideas but in things” said William Carlos Williams). Join poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and artist Meredith Nemirov to explore the objects of your world.

Bring a couple of objects you like. Bring any drawing tools you enjoy working with—pens, pencils, charcoal, etc. Bring a sketch book about 11” x 15.” Class will break for an hour for lunch.

 

January 22, Ah Haa School, Tellruide, CO

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

$150

to register, visit Ah Haa or call 970-728-3886.

 

 

Monday Night: A Portrait

 

You are not a passive observer in the cosmos. The entire universe is expressing itself through you at this very minute.

—Deepak Chopra

 

 

Even as she made the cauliflower soup,

she was a deep space explorer.

No one else in the room seemed to notice

 

she was floating. No one noticed

how gravity had no hold on her.

No, they only saw she was chopping onions,

 

noticed how the act made her cry. How was it

did they not hear her laughter, astonished

as she was by her own weightlessness,

 

by the way she could move in any direction?

Perhaps the novelty explains why

she forgot to turn off the stove,

 

untethered as she was to anything.

It’s a miracle she sat at the dinner table at all,

what, with the awareness that she was surrounded

 

by planets, spiral galaxies, black holes, moons. Yes,

miracle, she thought as she tasted the soup,

and noticed deep space not just around,

 

but inside her: supernovae, constellations,

interstellar dust,

the glorious, immeasurable dark.

 

Out of Reach

 

 

The crystal vase on the top shelf,

the one that holds two dozen roses.

The Hallelujah Chorus’s high A.

The perfect word that flutters away.

The name of the man walking toward you.

The card that slips between the seats.

The itch on your back. The dream upon waking.

World peace. Inner peace. Any peace.

 

In the kitchen, a persimmon

with its stubborn glossy skin. A knife

with its shrewd steel edge. Oh this art

of choosing to want what’s in hand—

sweet honeyed flesh, yielding and soft.

Oh this craving for blood oranges, tart and red.

 

 

 

Dave drips the hot blue wax onto the ski

and tells me how it will help the ski meet the snow.

“The cold snow is sharp,” he says, “and aggressive.”

Today’s wax will harden the base of the ski.

 

I think of the world and all its sharpnesses,

all its aggressions. We humans

are not so unlike the snow. I’ve been fooled

so often. Perhaps my soul needs blue wax.

 

No, I think, what the soul really needs

is more like the scraper he pulls out,

and the brushes of copper, horsehair, and nylon.

What the soul really needs is a scouring.

 

He explains that the scouring allows

the cuts in the structure to be exposed

so that the skis don’t suction to the snow.

Is that what all these little cuts are for in me?

 

To keep me from getting stuck? Later,

as I skate in the race and feel my ski glide

across what is cold, I think Dave

with my visible breath.

 

There are so many ways to relearn

how it is we meet the world. Today,

the lesson is a ski, a scraper, some wax,

a man with an iron, and acres and acres of snow.

 

 

The Vendor

 

 

And if there were a map

for the path of my own becoming,

I wouldn’t buy it.

I tried. I marched up to the vendor

of maps, took out my coin,

and held it out for the exchange,

but was startled by an inner revolt—

not an angry crowd but a quiet, insistent no.

I put the coin back in my pocket

and walked away, wildly aware

I had no idea what step came next.

 

 

 

Even then she was becoming

a dreamer, a lover of bark,

a student of solitude. Even then

she noticed how there were places

and moods that words couldn’t touch—

even then she felt the joy in trying anyway.

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