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One Small Act

 

 

 

washing the counter

making it more beautiful

this nook in the universe

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Like the giant rock, balancing in the desert

on a slender pillar of sand. Like the way

the full moon seems so much larger

when it first rises. Like how the bluebird,

smaller than my open hand, migrates

up to two-thousand miles in the spring.

 

Every day, the world bewilders me,

as if daring me to believe in other

impossible things. Like how closeness

to death makes us more alive.

Like people all over the world

choosing kindness over chaos.

Like love, that against all odds,

continues to grow.

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Tonight, courage is the voice

of the mint tea as it lends its strength,

its green to the water.

 

It’s no small thing

to infuse something else

with warmth, with sweetness.

 

All day, I’ve wanted to be bolder.

All day, I’ve felt unsure

of what comes next.

 

The mint says yes, says drink,

says rest. Says, a small kick

can do a lot. The mint says,

 

one way to get stronger

is patience. It soothes me,

it helps me to sit

 

and feel what I feel

this smooth tea—

subtle, strong enough.

 

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It’s not that they are hiding—

it’s more that they know

the power of a red dress.

Between slabs of red sandstone,

the tiny yellow green flowers

of the desert paintbrush

decorate themselves

with bright red bracts,

colorful flame-like spears

that attract butterflies,

hummingbirds and bees.

 

It’s what we do to survive,

those of us born plain,

those of us otherwise ignored.

I think of the homely girl I was

who wanted to wear

gold combs in her hair

to the middle school dance,

as if something shiny and bright

might attract the honey boys.

 

I want to go back to that gym

with its streamers and balloons

and take the gold combs

out of her mousy brown hair

and tell her the brightest parts of her

are inside. I want to tell her

that being a small green

and yellow flower

will serve her.

 

I want her to know

that a day will come

when she’ll walk in the desert

and feel so at one

with the cliffs and the scrub brush,

the lichen and the Mormon tea,

and that in that moment

when she loses her sense of herself

and merges with slickrock

and paintbrush and sky

it is then she will be most beautiful.

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Eadem mutata resurgo

Latin motto: Changed, I rise again

 

 

Sometimes in spring

I can still find the dried seeds

of the mountain mahogany

clinging to the ends

of the branches—

feathery golden spirals,

logarithmic and light.

 

How the universe

loves a pattern,

an elegant mathematics—

this same spiral is found

in spider webs, sunflowers,

snail shells, cyclones, the arms

of galaxies, the human ear,

even in the nerves of my cornea

 

that help me to see

the very pattern that

gives me the ability to see.

I want to find the self-similar spiral curve

that informs kindness and strength

as it spreads through a people. I want

to find the equation that calculates

an exponentially growing radius of love.

I want to find the dynamic beauty in us

 

that amplifies as it moves out

with ever increasing speed

from the infinite center.

I want to embody the trustworthy constant

that inspires our species to be better,

want to know the recursive courage that drives us

to thrive in difficult times.

Our potential, endless, yet humble

as last year’s seed in my hand, ready

to be planted, to sprout, to grow.

 

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Hope

rm sneffels smile

Hope has holes

in its pockets.

It leaves little

crumb trails

so that we,

when anxious,

can follow it.

Hope’s secret:

it doesn’t know

the destination—

it knows only

that all roads

begin with one

foot in front

of the other.

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Hello Friends,

If you were unable to join us live for our April 3, 2020, reading, you can catch me and my friend Albert Flynn DeSilver doing a special online reading … about an hour long total. We each read for 15 minutes at the beginning, then open it up for a discussion based on viewer comments about the role of poetry in our lives right now.

I read exclusively poems written in the last three weeks–all of them found here on A Hundred Falling Veils–all of them speaking to the world we are in right now.

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Every year the pussy willows

astonish me with their willingness

to be soft in a time when the rest

of the world is stick-ish and harsh and bare.

 

Sometimes softness is the key to survival.

I search for it in myself—the courage

to shed the hard shell I thought would protect me,

to shuck the hard shell that no longer fits,

and I marvel as something new emerges,

soft as pussy willows,

this vulnerable, practical hope.

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Dear Other Version of Myself,

 

In my calendar, it’s April second

and you are going to an event tonight

at a bookstore in another town

where the people will gather

and hug each other and taste

each other’s wine. You live in a world

that no longer exists, and every day

I try to reconcile it—how you

had plans to go camping next weekend,

how you were going to go to the theater

with no mask, no gloves,

no sense of your body as a weapon.

 

Every day, your life, which once was my life,

seems increasingly impossible.

Every day, these two worlds are farther apart—

the one in which you were getting on a plane

to visit your mother

and the one in which I put on rubber gloves

to go to the post office box.

I remember how seldom you washed

your hands for fear that someone you love

would die. I remember what it was like

to hug my friends with no worry

of harming them, to go to a restaurant,

to plan for a day past tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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also known as Johnny jump up, heart’s ease, heart’s delight, come and cuddle me

 

 

Into the shade by the porch

bloomed the first wild pansy,

its small yellow face sunny

and eager and open.

 

The Athenians used to make

the tiny flowers into syrup

to moderate anger and

to comfort and strengthen the heart.

 

And here it is today,

small volunteer beauty,

growing in this patch of dirt

where nothing else wants to grow.

 

This tiny garden is but one of many

concurrent realities—others involve

hospitals short of beds, loved ones

gone, doctors scared to go home.

 

Our hearts need strengthening.

Little violet, we’re learning, too,

how to be surrounded by death

and still rise up, bring healing as we bloom.

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