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One Walking

 

 

 

midnight

learning to rhyme my thoughts

with the air

Two Things I Would Give You

 

 

 

Sleep, of course. Long,

uninterrupted hours of sleep.

For a week. For a month.

For a year. You’d just put your head

on the pillow, and sleep

would come meet you

like a devoted friend, or like

a dog that will come whenever you call,

and snuggle with you all night.

 

And then, when you woke,

I would give you the certainty

that life is worth waking for,

that you are beloved,

that everything you do

makes a difference, and

by everything, I mean everything.

 

 

From Twenty-Seven Years Ago

 

 

Things are gonna get brighter.

            —”Ooh Child,” The Five Stairsteps

 

 

In the photo, the girl is smiling.

I know all she is hiding.

 

If I could talk to her now,

I wouldn’t tell her much.

 

Wouldn’t warn her about

which boys will break her heart.

 

Wouldn’t tell her which jobs to avoid,

which years will last decades,

 

which friends will lie, which

day she should pay close attention.

 

But I would tell her that Nina Simone

was right when she covered The Five Stairsteps.

 

That things will be brighter.

The young me wouldn’t believe it, of course.

 

Because the healing hasn’t happened yet,

she has stopped believing it’s possible.

 

I might could slip that song into her

cassette mix. Even if she didn’t believe the lyrics,

 

she’d sing along. That’s the way she is.

And the words would land

 

in the branches of her heart

like the truest lyrics do. And build a nest there.

 

And when she lost her voice,

and when it got dark,

 

they would sing to her about the brightening.

Yeah, they would sing. They would sing.

One Week Later

 

 

 

There are moments I forget she is gone.

Perhaps when I am in the garden. Or painting

rocks. Or making dinner. And then I remember.

She’s gone. I cry less now, but still.

I cry. Of course. Because the cloth I use to wipe

my glass table. Because the vase I slip

marigolds into. Because the necklace

I am wearing. Because out of nowhere

the sound of her voice. Because

the book I am reading. Because

when I think of how much she loved me,

how much I loved her, I gasp and

my nose starts to tingle and my eyes

well, and I know she would tell me

not to cry, but I do. Because it’s a beautiful

and rare gift to love someone. Deeply. Because

she was my gift. Because I was hers.

One Drought

 

 

just doing my homework

said the rain cloud

the mesa still dust dry

Return Address from Ohio

 

 

 

And out of the manila envelope

came a new white hand towel

hand embroidered with colorful flowers,

each one a bright celebration

of what a small amount of thread

and a steady hand can do.

Another cloth, this one edged

in a red and white lace crochet,

seemed proof that framing changes everything.

A photo of two women laughing.

A pink ribbon holding it all together.

A pink sticky note, that read

in a neat, old-fashioned script:

To Rosemerry, from Secret Agents.

There are days I can hardly

believe my good fortune—

just when the headlines

are their worst, a stranger

will reach out with a wild

and tender kindness that frames

the moment with joy,

reminding me that I, too,

might stitch thoughtfulness

and beauty into everything I do,

then share it with the world.

 

One Near a Mud Puddle

 

 

 

this old heart

wrinkled and graying

still learning to walk

 

for Phyllis

 

 

I remember the day she chose me.

It was fall. I didn’t know then

I would come to love her, didn’t know

how trust would grow, like catnip, like oregano,

more robust, more wild every year.

I didn’t know how I’d been waiting to be chosen,

that she would help me find the wings I’d never felt,

never seen. That she would dare me to fly.

That she would be the wind.

 

 

 

 

I was so excited to drop the impromptu Valentine

in through the car window—a white heart

with a big blue eye at its center that I’d ripped

into shape from an old magazine cover.

 

It slipped through the open window

and landed just right on the driver’s seat,

the eye facing up, the heart facing the door.

 

Imagine my surprise when my friend Kyra

told me she hadn’t been in town today.

Really? I asked her, stunned. Really, she said.

 

Because who would think there were two

red station wagons in town with the passenger door

bashed in and the back full of camping gear?

 

Dear stranger in the red station wagon who parked in town,

I know I didn’t give you the heart on purpose,

but I’m so glad I did. Sometimes our mistakes

 

have so much to teach us. Now I know

how I want to treat strangers: Like beloved friends.

Like people I thrill to shower with love.

 

 

 

By Example

 

 

 

He taught me you can never have too much love

or too much ice cream in the freezer. That it matters

how you shake someone’s hand. He taught me

 

to pile wet seaweed on a bare patch of dirt

so the earthworms will come to the surface.

He taught me how to cast, to set the hook, to filet.

 

He taught me to cheer for myself. Once,

he taught me to say no, and to mean it,

and we shouted it over and over into the phone,

 

our voices a joyful chorus of refusal. He taught me

that despite unceasing pain, you can still

be grateful to be alive. That it is possible

 

to love someone very different from you.

That you can go to different schools together.

He taught me to take life seriously, and then

 

to speak in made up languages and giggle till you cry.

He taught me you can’t save everyone, but

you can save a few. And it’s important that you do.

 

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