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Presence

 

 

When the cat ran away,

I noticed how she did not move

between the legs of the chairs,

how she did not yowl by her bowl

nor sit in the window. Everything

I saw was where she was not.

All day, I held it close,

her absence. All day,

I thought how she was not here.

Was it true?

 

And Again

 

 

 

And what if I never get it right,

this loving, this giving of the self

to the other? And what if I die

before learning how to offer

my everything? What if, though

I say I want this generous,

indefatigable love, what if

I forever find a way to hold

some corner back? I don’t want

to find out the answer

to that. I want to be the sun

that gives and gives until it burns out,

the sea that kisses the shore

and only moves away so that

it might rush up to kiss it again.

Happy Day of Love!

Three love poems from this year are published today in Telluride Inside and Out–share them with your loved ones!

Three Love Poems

 

 

 

What Took Me So Long

 

 

playing referee

between the sun and clouds,

eventually I take off my stripes

to be a spectator instead—

how pleasant

without all that whistling

 

 

One Inescapable

 

 

 

Ducking into the woods

it is harder to tell

the storm has come—

though here

beneath the trees

in my own chest,

thunder.

 

 

That Winter Evening

 

for Billy Miller, remembering events on January 4, 2012

 

 

When the man pulled my father

from the icy waters of Lake Michigan,

he did not know years later my step-daughter

would need someone to buy her a sweater

so she would feel nurtured, did not know

that my son would need someone

to make a mosaic with him so that he

could feel loved, did not know

that my daughter would need

someone to tell her that she

was beautiful. When the man

pulled my father out of the water—

my dad had been fishing alone—

that off-duty fireman couldn’t have known

that years later this very daughter

would sit beside her father and hold his hand

and weep at the simple gift

of being able to hold his hand.

The fireman was doing what he knew to do—

to rush to the person in need of help.

He didn’t think then of the other lives

blessed by the man. Did not think

of the other lives he blessed with his hands

when he chose to try, though the odds

of saving the man were low.

He knew only to reach.

Years later, my mother still sleeps

beside the man that was pulled

from the winter lake.

Give us hands that know to reach

for each other—stranger, neighbor,

friend. Give us hands that unthinkingly

choose to save the family

we’ve never met.

 

See the news story here.

 

 

 

 

 

Repechage

 

 

 

Before on guard,

you meet your opponent

on the strip

without your mask

and hold your sword

between your eyes—

a salute—before

you drop the sword

and don the mask.

 

How much of the match

is fought in the gaze?

There are ways

to attack and riposte

when the body

is achingly still.

 

It’s a glint, a squint,

an unblinking hold.

It’s a stare, a glare,

a flash. I’ve felt it before—

known that it was all over

before it began.

 

But we pull on the mask

anyway, prepare

to engage, though already

we know how this goes—

who wins, and who

walks away wondering

how next time, next time

it could be different.

 

 

 

* Repechage: the competition formula which gives losers of a direct elimination bout a second chance to stay in the competition

One Walk in the Frost

 

 

 

seven degrees—

even the barbed wire fence

wears diamonds

 

 

 

By surprise, the snow

takes the night and by morning

nothing is the same

as it was—that’s what it’s like

falling in love. Everything

is the same, only

it isn’t. A steller’s jay

flies bluely through

the new world. Everything

is out there, waiting

for you to discover it again.

There are footprints

in the snow that

aren’t yours. Follow them.

 

 

Open your hands, lift them.

            —William Stafford, “Today”

 

 

The parking space beside the store when you

were late. The man who showed up just in time

to hold the door when you were juggling five

big packages. The spider plant that grew—

though you forgot to water it. The new

nest in the tree outside your window. Chime

of distant church bells when you’re lonely. Rhyme

of friendship. Apples. Sky a trove of blue.

 

And who’s to say these miracles are less

significant than burning bushes, loaves

and fishes, steps on water. We are blessed

by marvels wearing ordinary clothes—

how easily we’re fooled by simple dress—

Oranges. Water. Leaves. Bread. Crows.

 

 

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