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Absence

 

 

The bluebirds return.

It never occurs to me to chastise them for leaving.

It’s what they do.

 

All day, I think

of their shallow wing beats,

their slow flight,

 

their bright blue fluttering,

and how easily, how instantly yesly

my heart rises up to meet them.

Inquiry

 

 

How has pride helped your family?

That is a question I’ve never asked.

Nor How do you treat yourself

 

when you think “I must give others choices?”

And suddenly it occurs to me

that I always ask the same questions.

 

How was your day? and Peanut butter

sandwich or bagel with cream cheese?

I have been thinking of new questions today.

 

What do you have to teach me?

Earth, what do you want? and

Where do I begin? But these are still

 

questions I can think of. I want to learn

new questions, questions I don’t yet know to ask.

Questions that scare me. Questions that make me

 

weep just hearing them. Questions

I know I will spend a lifetime

learning how to answer

 

Springing

 

 

 

I am reborn into the world of radiance—

crystalline icicles, glittering reaches of snow—

and whatever in me is old brown stick,

whatever in me is withered rose hip,

whatever is desiccated and dead takes notice

of the shine and says, Teach me that.

 

I am reborn into the world of drip

and melt and streets of mud,

and whatever part of me is muck-squeamish

and sludge resistant goes walking anyway

and wallows and squishes and slips and laughs.

 

In that slippery moment, the part of me

who has died becomes lotus.

And who is it in me that scoffs

and says Who are you to be lotus?

I show her diamonds in the field,

the big blue dome of sky, the vast

expanses of glistening mud,

and I ask her, Who are you not to be?

emerging form

In our fourth episode of Emerging Form, a podcast on creative process, my co-host Christie Aschwanden and I explore Getting Started. Ever have a creative project you just couldn’t seem to begin? Ever been stared down by a blank page? In this 28-minute episode, we look at lots of tips for getting started, we discuss working through perfection anxiety, paralysis of analysis, the blank page blues and so much more. Then we interview amazing poet and writing coach Judyth Hill and ask her two burning questions about how to get started. Join us!

Also, check out our back episodes on emerging form, is talent necessary and existential despair.

The Berry Bush

 

 

I knew that they were poisonous, the berries.

Still, I used them to make soup. They were

the most beautiful shades of yellow, green

and orange, and they popped when you squeezed them

and spilled their sticky juice, their tiny seeds.

I’d stir them into puddle water with handfuls

of ripped green grass, small stones, broken sticks.

Then I’d stir. Stir and chant into the old silver pot,

chant words I imagined had been sung long before.

It was a soup, I knew, that could heal.

A magical soup that could nourish the world

just in the making of it.

 

Years later I consider what I knew then—

how belief is the most important ingredient.

How all healing begins with a bit of poison.

 

 

 

 

The way the spruce tree

holds the wet snow—how

 

in a blizzard its branches

will bend and bend

 

and bend until they release—

that is the way I want to love you,

 

want to trust that I can hold

the weight of you as you fall,

 

as you continue to fall,

hold you until it seems I will break

 

and then, just when I’m sure

I can’t take any more,

 

release you back into yourself—

not in anger, not in fear,

 

not with guilt—release you

with green resilience

 

so that come the next storm

I am prepared

 

to catch you again, again,

and let you go.

 

 

 

 

 

One Sisyphean

 

 

 

the glass half empty

she keeps filling it

never noticing

in the bottom

all the tiny holes

Job Description

 

 

My work is to be the student of the buds

that have been on the birch all winter—

tight and red, they know when to clench,

when to wait, when to swell,

when to burst, when to green.

 

My work is to open like the scent of juniper

when stroked by afternoon sun,

like the gong when rapidly rapped

into a shining explosion of resonance.

 

And when I am wall, my work

is to add hinges and become door.

 

And when I am lock, my work

is to find the lost key.

 

My work is to be baby bird,

to open my beak and take in

whatever the world has to feed me

and then

learn to fly.

 

 

One Reality Check

 

 

 

cleaning off my shoes

before walking through the mud,

and Love says to me,

what? do you think

I am going to carry you?

 

 

It is the child of cold and warmth.

It is right it should show up

both cloudy and clear,

this union of opposites,

shaped like a spear, piercing

the silence with dripping, dripping.

It forms itself

the same way it disappears.

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