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Small Gratitudes

 

 

 

It was one of those days when the alarm

didn’t go off, and we woke anyway

to a world covered in snow, and

 

by noon the sky was blue. And I drove

right through the construction zone

without being stopped by a flagger.

 

The tomato for breakfast was ripe

and sharp and sweet. And the tea

was strong and black. The radio

 

played only songs I wanted to sing.

My car started. I had no flat tires.

I never felt sick. Never fell. More blessings,

 

it turns out, than a woman can count, though

I try to count them all. And the more

I remember—a good friend called, all

 

ten fingers are intact, my eyes still

see across the room—yes,

the more blessings I consider, the more

 

my joy grows until I am dumbfounded,

gobsmacked by gratitude that’s exactly

the size of the known universe, amazed by

 

how perfectly it fits—as if I were made for this—

right inside my skin.

 

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Keep distance, the fencing teacher says,

and by this he means, stay close enough

to your opponent that you could, at any time,

extend, lunge and attack with your point.

All my life, I’ve tried not to keep distance.

All my life, I’ve done my best to avoid

the attack—from either side. And now,

with my silver lamé and my one white glove

and my face safe behind metal mesh, I dig

to find the part of me who craves engagement,

who seeks a bout, who wants to threaten

my target and exploit their vulnerability.

Keep distance, he says, and I understand

that this is how I show up for the game.

This is how I meet not only the opponent,

but, perhaps for the first time, myself.

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One Sauvignon

 

 

 

thirsting for wine

surprised to find inside

a vineyard, a barrel, a glass

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Priscilla the visayan warty pig

has learned to dig with a tool.

She digs with her nose, like all

 

other pigs, but then she’ll pick

up a stick or a scrap of bark

and use it to dig a hole.

 

It’s unprecedented—a pig

using a tool. And it gives me hope

that I, too, might evolve to acquire

 

something new—for instance,

an ability to understand sarcasm—

without which, studies say, I seem naïve.

 

Sarcasm, experts say, is most used

amongst people we love, despite the fact

that it comes from the Greek,
“to tear off flesh like dogs.”

Even a computer can comprehend

that sarcasm’s a tool for telling

 

true lies. So why am I so sincere?

Why does my right hemisphere not know

when “yeah, right” really means, “no way?”

 

Oh Priscilla, you inspiring visayan warty pig,

if you can evolve beyond your nature,

do you think perhaps I might? Yeah, right.

 

 

For more information about Priscilla and her science-tool-using prowess, visit https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/06/us/pigs-use-tools-study-scn-trnd/index.html

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potato chips

and muscadine wine—

communion of friends
*

 

the audition—

showing up

the most important role

 

*

 

on the road to bald-faced

the joy on the path

so true

 

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One Lift

 

 

hungry for truth

she pickpockets heaven—

unaware she’s the target

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in the ring with lions,

right where she wants to be

this housecat

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I mean, are you kidding me?!

 

 

They’re just grapes, sure, but

more like what every kiss wants to be—

surprising and unpredictable.

Intensely sweet, spicy, too,

and tough, unwilling to be summed up,

making me pucker at the same time

I long for more, something

I happened to find in the store,

but the taste, the round essence, is wild,

unable to be tamed.

It’s enough to make a woman wonder

how she’s never tried this before,

as if the world’s been holding out on her—

and if this new thrill is possible, well, then

what else might be out there for a woman to find?

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Is not like midnight in Colorado.

It’s dark, of course, same stars.

But the air here has a weight

that holds me—as if it’s been having

a long conversation with me

since before I arrived, as if it knows me.

I have come with my arms too full.

The night asks me to set down

whatever I have brought,

to hold it the way it holds me.

I breathe into the night

only to find it is breathing me.

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for Jack Ridl

 

 

My friend Jack is really St. Peter.

I trust him. He has a knack

for finding the good in people,

 

for bringing it out. He has a way

of creating Eden out of a blank page,

out of a living room, out of pixels.

 

He knows the gate to paradise

is right here. He knows how to say,

“Fuck death.” He knows how to love

 

the world, how to hold those

who need to be held, how to care.

I am not always so sure I believe

 

in God, but I always believe in Jack.

Sometimes when I ache, when

I don’t know how to write another word,

 

Jack will send me a note. He’ll say

something like, “Grief is an ambush,”

and then, just knowing he understands,

 

I go on. I watch the willows turn yellow.

And Jack is here, too, holding open the pearly gate

so that heaven will slip through to this world.

 

He’s got his cup of coffee ready, and one for you

and me, too, to toast to all the beauty that is,

to all the beauty still left to be made.

 

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