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Already the mind

has put on its tool belt

grabbed its manuals,

consulted its experts

and rolled up its sleeves,

but the heart just wants

to know itself,

pours a cup of Sumatra,

sets out another cup,

and waits to see

who will arrive.

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and we will go

to the haiku cottage

in the mountains

where there are no roads

and there are no pens

and there we let ourselves

be written, the seasons

will shape our syllables,

the moon shall be

our cutting word,

and every time we think

we know what line comes next

we will thrill at how new

the world can be, sliding,

escaping, unswirling,

and calling follow me,

bring only wonder,

follow me

 

 

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The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.

            —Joanna Macy

 

 

Give me a heart that breaks—

ears willing to hear the difficult news

and legs that do not choose to run from it.

 

Yes, give me a heart big enough

to accommodate a wrestling match inside,

a mind that knows no one wins a war,

 

hands that move to help no matter

what the mind might say.

Give me a heart that opens

 

long after it thinks it’s already open,

and lips that know when to listen.

Give me a heart that knows itself

 

as other hearts. Give me feet

that will stand when someone must stand

for justice. And a spine flexible enough

 

to turn and see all sides. Snow falls

on all my thoughts. It sometimes

takes a long time to melt, a long time

 

before I remember again to pray

to be open, to pray for a heart that breaks,

to notice the stars shining from the inside.

 

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One Forever

 

still winging in the field

that snow angel that melted

years ago

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Almost to Solstice

 

 

There is a light and it never goes out

            —The Smiths, There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

 

 

And even in these darkest days

in the darkest rooms

with the darkest thoughts

and the darkest words

with the darkest songs

in the dark-full ears

and when the darkening dreams

weights the darkest fear

even then there’s a light

and it never goes out,

even then, when the eyes

know only doubt, even then,

even then, there’s a hand

eager to spill shine

into our cup and all

we need to do is drink,

then pour a bit of shine

for someone else.

 

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Preparation

 

 

 

I must take off my gloves—

not the rubber gloves

for dishwashing, nor

the stiff cloth gloves for the garden,

not the wool gloves for snow

nor the leather gloves for stacking wood—

but the gloves you can’t see,

the gloves I wear to protect

you from me. Or me from you.

The invisible layers I think

I need to keep us safe. When

what you really need, what

I really want, is to show up

exposed, bare, to strip off

the unseen covering,

and from this tender place, say

I am sorry.

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Back to What Matters

 

 

We are built to make mistakes, coded for error.

            —Lewis Thomas

 

 

And thank god for mistakes,

our inherent inclination to not do

what we’re supposed to. It’s cellular,

 

they say. Biological. Evolutionary.

Just two nights ago, my back erred.

Stopped working. Would not stand straight.

 

Would not sit. No walking. No bending.

No lifting. No twisting. You lay down,

it said. You don’t move. And so for two days,

 

I’ve watched the sky out the window.

I’ve watched the wall be a wall. I’ve

marveled at the body, how it changes

 

from go to no in an instant. How

a simple mistake—a lunge to the side—

didn’t seem like a mistake at the time.

 

And yet, because of it, rest. Because of it,

a quieting. A welcome nothing. The occasion

to know healing. The firm invitation

 

to learn to say no. How difficult times

help us grow. How mistakes become

game changers, chances for transformation,

 

the summons to wonder, What am I doing

here anyway? Why am I really here? And

the bravest part of the self steps in to answer.

 

  • Dear Friends, I have been literally flat on my back for several days, and I was utterly unable to write poems. Or do anything, for that matter. It was so humbling. Amazing, really, to be so incapacitated! And I am feeling much better. Your regularly scheduled daily poems should return now …

 

 

 

 

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One on the Floor

 

 

 

math homework

crumpled and tossed—

one student subtracts herself

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Concentric

 

 

 

See, I want to say to my son. See

how the pond has frozen in thick,

 

continuous curves. See all the lines,

how they ring each other, like dozens

 

of tiny orbits. I want to show him

the marvel of it all, but he is too old

 

now for marvels, or perhaps too young,

the precise age where beauty is boring.

 

And so I take the child of myself to the pond

and show her the rings. I resist the urge

 

to explain how the meltwater formed them,

how surface-tension forces make liquid melt

 

cling against the lower parts of the ice.

Instead, I let her gaze at the miracle,

 

trace the concentric bands with her fingers.

How curious the rings are, like frozen halos

 

that fit enormous angels. How astonishing

in their design. Just wait till I show her

 

we can walk on it, too. I let her amazement

become my own, our feet slipping

 

across the smooth surface, our breath

rising in white ephemeral curls.

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Scent of ripe quince—

how it wholly takes over.

Salt. Butter.

Pure cold water.

 

Release of carrot

just pulled from the earth.

Purple of lilac.

Playing with words.

 

Sweet thrill as a note

rises up through the lips.

Kissing, of course—

the sweet red crush of it.

 

Sun on my shoulder.

Voice of the lover.

The moment before

the moon breaks over

 

the horizon. Reading.

Walking for days.

Staring at stars.

High alpine skies.

 

And all the things I didn’t try.

All the unwalked paths.

Sleeping in. Waking up.

Uncontainable laughter.

And the silence after.

 

 

 

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