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They said

it’s a wall

so I believed

it’s a wall

until I reached

through the wall

and found my hand

full of flowers.

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            with thanks to Rebecca Mullen

but what if I can’t do enough

I said, and love said

what if you don’t try?

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United

Over thirty years later

I still return to the night

when my brother and I

stood in the kitchen and argued

the merits of Grape Nuts,

versus Cap’n Crunch.

Potassium, potassium, potassium.

I still hear him chanting

the one nutrient his cereal

had more of than mine.

Breakfast was the least

of our differences,

but it taught us to laugh

as we disagreed

so that later, when the stakes

were higher—

presidential elections

and gun laws—

we could argue till I cried,

then snuggle on the couch.

Though we seldom agree,

though we will forever cancel each other’s votes,

though I will never eat Cap’n Crunch,

I’ll sit with him as he eats it,

laughing, shaking my head,

grateful he teaches me so much

about how I am not.

He will celebrate me and buy me

any damn cereal I want.

Though we disagree about almost everything

except how much we love each other—

we are two threads in a civilization

that would try to makes us believe

we couldn’t be one cloth—

but we are, woven tight, we are.

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Finding Faith

While pulling the beets,

it’s impossible to lose faith

in the world. Those tiny seeds

that once fit in the palm are now

large red globes,

dense with dark sweetness

and heavy in the hand.

They are like promises kept,

like small proofs in patience,

confirmations that sometimes

the good that’s growing can’t be seen.

They are like hard truths.

Not everyone will want them.

But some will. Some will.

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In the Steps of RBG

Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.

—Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as quoted in Notorious RBG by Irin Carmen and Shana Knizhnik

           

So let me take one step right now,

one step toward respect.

And give me strength to take another

toward clarity. And though

my feet might feel like stones, let

me take another step toward justice.

And another toward equity. And another

toward truth. And though my legs

may feel leaden and slow, though someone

else may step on my toes, may I inch

toward forgiveness. May every step

be toward a bridge. Enough divisiveness.

And as I go, may I find joy in the stepping,

grace in the edging toward great change.

But if there’s little joy, let me step anyway.

Then take another step. And another. And another.

*

Thank you, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Thank you for showing us another way to fight. Thank you for bringing us together right now. Thank you for all you did to stand up for what is just. Thank you for your commitment, determination, inspiration and true leadership. A Matriot.

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One Comfort

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I Want a Lot

You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.

            —Rainer Maria Rilke, “You See, I Want a Lot,” trans. Robert Bly

Rilke, you were right.

I want so much to be useful.

Today I stared at the brown cardboard box

on the counter and marveled

at how a box knows exactly what it’s here to do—

it holds what needs to be held,

it keeps things together,

it helps things move where they need to go.

It is a fort for a child or a bed for a cat

or a makeshift sled in winter.

I hazard to say the box never worries

if it is enough. It simply folds up

when its task is done and waits to be of use again.

Or not. Oh, this longing to do more, to be more,

to serve more, because in every direction,

the need is so great. Oh, this fear

that no matter how much I do, it is never enough.

A man is not a crowbar, a hoe.

A woman is not a box,

but oh for a moment to be able

to keep things together.

I know it’s not how it works,

but oh, for a moment,

to hold all that needs to be held.

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and when

the larkspur

petals fall and when

the fall begins to sing

and when the song weaves

through the loss and when

the loss dyes

everything, when

everything is

emptier and emptiness

is whole somehow, when

whole is what a life

does, when life is

what is now, when

now is

ever changing

and changing knows

no end, when

any ending

I might seek is

just another

when

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So In I Go

And if I felt into that dark ache

in my gut, would it cover me

with its stench? Would it stick

to me like tar, like muck, like pitch?

Would it suck me in like quicksand

so that the more I tried to save myself,

the deeper in I would sink?

And if I waved from its depths,

who would save me?

And if I don’t meet it at all,

what if I don’t meet it at all?

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Three poems of mine came out today in ONE ART: A Journal of Poetry, an online journal that I love to read. Please check it out–it’s a great place to find other poems and poets you’ll love.

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