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Mom, just relax. Let me take you to a place where there are no bunions, no bruises, no violence, no Donald Trumps, no unhappy thoughts.

            —Vivian Trommer, 10

 

 

Start with the scent of chanterelle cream sauce

still lingering from dinner. Throw in a few stars—

you can’t see them, but you know they are there.

 

Add a tickle. A giggle. A kitten-ish squeal.

Rub tenderly. Then hard. Then forget for a while

to rub. Add a hum, and the dark that can’t enter

 

the room. Add moon. And cocoon. An impending

soon. And the sound of the river never ending.

An inkling of joy. A hunch of perfect. A hint

 

of this can’t last. Choose that. Distill to precisely

this moment. Any sorrow or pain

that might wish to rise, it is only a background

 

flavor that shows up how sweet this magic,

how sometimes the best recipe is the one

that uses exactly what we have on hand.

 

 

Like every other day, today

it is apparent that only love

will save us. Not in the grandiose

abstract way, but in the alarming

specific way. As in forgiveness, now.

As in choosing to hug instead

of fighting back. As in taking

three deep breaths before saying

something we regret. It saves us

from thirsting in the desert of our lives,

but only if we save it first by

choosing it, now in this moment

of angry words, now in this moment

of clenched thoughts, now in

this moment when we’d rather

taste venom but instead, we

pour love into our cup and

bring it to our lips and drink

and drink until once again

it is only love that makes sense,

only love that refills the cup.

One Urgency

 

 

waking to the strangled song

of geese, they insist

now is no time to be asleep

 

 

 

taking the calendar

from the wall, the days

grow feet and run away

 

 

 

And let there be rain,

though the path is easier

when dry, and let there be

a bend in the road.

Let us think we know

where we are going—

and let us be wrong.

There are wings in us

we’ve forgotten.

Let us walk until

we remember them.

And then, let us walk

for the joy of walking.

Because puddles.

Because the path.

One Parenting

 

 

 

as if sweet talk

or threats might make

the rain fall up

 

 

 

She is across the mesa,

learning to saddle up, mount up

and post the trot.

It’s what we don’t know

that frightens us.

For a time, there is

the death grip. For a time,

there’s forgetting to breathe.

But soon there’s the thrill

of learning to move

with another, the joy

of breathing in rhythm

with the stride.

 

I follow the skyline

to where she is,

wonder what planet

I’m using to triangulate

my wishes good night.

I, too, am learning

to hold on more loosely,

to breathe into these

new rhythms, chin up,

eyes on where we’re going,

a smile insisting on itself.

 

 

 

 

Think of the frost that will crack our bones eventually

            —Tom Hennen, “Love for Other Things”

 

 

Before I can love you, I hate you.

Because the frothy pink of the milkweed

and the monarch who travels thousands of miles

just to feed there. Because the dark leaves

of soybeans, millions of green hearts

per acre. Because ripe blueberries

without a hint of pucker. Because

of the touch of the man who loves me.

Because the cool breeze on my bare arms.

 

But to love is to open the circle

of what is beloved, to offer my attention

to the concert of crickets and crows,

to the proliferation of box elder beetles,

the weeds that infiltrate the field. Sound

of lawn mowers, jackhammers, swarm

of mosquitoes. Stench of Sulphur. Deep

snows that bury the drive.

 

And love says why stop there? Widen

the circle to toxic sludge. Yellow jackets.

Earwigs. Freezing sideways sleet. Men

with guns and hate in their stare. Girls

who spit disdain. And the pain

that steals sleep. And the pain

that never leaves. And the pain

that would obliterate every bright thing,

 

and in so doing, reveal what is most precious—

this ability to love. To love despite.

To love regardless. To love. To love

what I hate, even you, frost that will crack

my bones. Will you not be my final teacher

in how to offer my attention? Will you

not be my last great love?

 

 

 

If you watch the heron as it stalks

amongst the tall green reeds, then pauses,

and in its pausing disappears, then you understand

something of the power of stillness.

 

And if you, yourself, are still long enough

to see the head of the snapping turtle

rise between the lily pads,

then you glean something of the rewards

that come with sitting still.

 

But if you sit expecting such rewards,

then perhaps sit longer and watch the cattails

as they waver and still, sway and still and still,

and feel how the urge in you to say something rises

and softens and softens until there is nothing to say,

 

until that kind of stillness becomes

the greatest reward, until you feel

stillness hold you the way the lake

holds the lily pad, the way

the silence holds a song.

 

 

            Based on an encaustic piece by the same name by Andrea Bird

 

 

 

She asks if I can hear the silence.

I try. I try too hard and all I hear is a low

green chant: lovable, loveless, loophole, loose. 

 

So she gives me petals, a handful of pink,

and I gather them in my hands. How lovely

they are as I listen to them fall.

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