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This morning, after the blizzard,

after the sun came out,

there was a moment when the shadows

of the empty cottonwood trees

patterned the snow like tree-sized lungs—

the trunk was a bronchus,

and the branches, bronchioles

that split into twiggish alveoli.

And the tree seemed to say, Remember.

I often neglect to be grateful

for lungs, for breath—

such a simple, forgettable gift.

But in the dividing silhouette,

I saw into myself, a divine branching,

an inner tree, an invitation

to sit and breathe. Remember, it seemed

to say, and I followed the lines until

they disappeared into the light.

Gratitude

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Gratitude, it happens,

needs less room to grow

than one might think—

is able to find purchase

on even the slenderest

of ledges, is able

to seed itself

in even the poorest of soils.

 

Just today, I marveled

as a small gratitude

took root

in the desert of me—

like a juniper tree

growing out of red rock.

 

If I hadn’t felt it myself,

I might not

have believed it—

but it’s true,

one small thankfulness

can slip into an arid despair

and with it comes

a change in the inner landscape,

the scent of evergreen.

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*Dear readers: Sooooo. After really investing myself in the letter (linked below) and writing the poem below, I found out the letter is a fake. And I thought about just taking down the poem. And then I thought, well, even though Albert didn’t write the letter, I still believe in what it says. So I changed the title and made note here that the letter is fake. I guess my poem just turned into fan fiction??

 

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If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.

            —a fake letter from Albert Einstein, in a letter to his daughter, Lieserl

 

 

Thank you for your letter.

I know you wrote it

for a daughter,

but I read it as if

you wrote it for me.

 

You spoke of making a love bomb,

a device powerful enough

to entirely destroy the hate,

selfishness and greed

that devastate the planet.

 

I want to believe it’s possible.

Now. Somehow, because it is

your assertion, it feels

more possible than something

the poets propose.

 

But count me in. Let me help

verify your equation in which

the energy to heal the world

is obtained through love

multiplied by the speed of light squared.

 

Let the experiment begin

in my heart. Let me always

let love write the proof.

Let me find the infinite energy

inside me waiting to be released.

 

Let me be driven by love.

Let me remember everything

is in relation to everything else:

Planets in their orbits. A virus. Black holes.

How I meet the world. The bending of light.

 

*to read the full letter, click here

Need a poetic boost? Join me and Albert Flynn DeSilver as we read poems inspired by and in conversation with the pandemic.

Albert is the author of Writing as a Path to Awakening. He’ll be hosting the reading on Zoom. After they reading, we will open the platform for a conversation: “What role is poetry playing in your life right now?” Join us April 3, 2020 6:30 PM MST (US and Canada). Please register in advance for this webinar:
https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pOZT_Vq2Rs6TQMRAT5ssTA

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Here

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Even as the snow was falling,

the birds in the branches

kept singing into morning,

easing their bright notes

into the thin gray spaces

between snowflakes.

 

There are days, imagine,

when the birds go unheard.

And it isn’t for lack of song—

the single note chirp

of sparrow, the bass of raven,

the chickadee’s hey swee-tee.

 

Some gifts come only

when we stay in one place,

come only when we are alone,

come only when we stop praying

to be somewhere else and instead

pray to be here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

            with gratitude for Dennis McNeil

Every night now as I make dinner in Colorado,

I listen to a tenor sing live from his back porch

in California near the coast.

While I chop onions and chard

and sip on sauvignon blanc,

he belts tunes from Oklahoma

and Phantom of the Opera,

patriotic songs and Frank Sinatra,

and I sing along, my small soprano lifted

by his generous voice that baptizes the room.

This is the world I believe in—

a world ringing with beauty.

A world where people share their gifts

with strangers, knowing our lives

depend on this.

Between songs, he toasts us with gin,

and smiles. I return his toast with wine.

This is the way we carry each other

through difficulties, one song at a time.

Patience

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Again today, the invitation

to fall in love with the world—

with the gray jay who flits

from empty branch to empty branch,

with the sharp scent of rabbit brush,

with the warm spring wind

and the dark buds on the crabapple

still tight with future bloom.

 

Some days, though the world offers itself,

it’s not so easy to fall in love—

days when heartache twists in the chest

and turns in us like a screw,

leaves us raw and sensitive, until,

too tender to hear any more bad news,

we shutter our hearts, we close our ears.

 

But if we’re lucky, an inner voice

sends us outside into the day,

and though it is gray, the world does

what the world does—

holds us despite our heartache,

holds us the same way it holds

the stubby pink cactus, all prickly and clenched,

the same way it holds last year’s thistles,

all brittle and flat and gray,

the same way it holds the dank scent of river

and the moldering scent of last year’s leaves,

holds us exactly as we are

until we are ready to fall in love again.

 

 

 

 

A Lesson in Resilience

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Today it is the chives that spur me,

seeing their slender green scapes and leaves

that have pushed up

through the dried clumps

of last year’s version of themselves.

 

When nothing else in the garden is green,

the chives grow, smooth, bendable, soft,

and yet they have managed to pierce

through the hard spring dirt.

Unwatered. Ignored.

 

In the aftermath of cold and dark,

they come. And something green in me responds,

pungent and powerful, eager. Ready

to flourish. Ready to meet the world,

though the cold is far from over.

 

What is it in us that longs to grow

through the previous, dried up versions of ourselves?

It rises, yes, like tiny spears, unstoppable,

bent on thriving, daring us to be

that resilient, that willing, that green.

 

Dear Friends,

On March 26 I recorded a Facebook Live poetry workshop for the Ah Haa School. I read poems that have been really helpful for me the last few weeks and gave ideas for how to write your own poem, too. Now you can watch it on You Tube, so grab a notebook, a pen, and a cup of tea (or glass of whiskey) and let’s spend some time together with poetry–no previous experience needed. In fact, you don’t have to even like poems to join in … I ended with a few poems I’ve written in these strange days.

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What I Can Do

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for my children, for all children

 

 

I want to give you the kind of day we didn’t have today—

a day when the wide blue sky makes you rush outside,

when we go to the park and meet your friends

and you run to greet them—you hug and play chase

and tag and tackle and whisper in each other’s ears.

I want to give you a day warmed through by laughter,

with crisp green leaves already on the trees.

And on our way home we could stop for ice cream

and joke with the women at the counter

about how there’s not much news to share.

A day when you can’t imagine being afraid. When

you fall asleep not wondering when someone we know

will die. Instead, the world gives us this day—

this day with its fears and its warnings—and

I give you what I can: A scarf to play dress up in.

A homemade pumpkin pie. Dance party in the kitchen.

Three tired and perfect words. Open arms.

A reminder the sleet will make the grass green.

Secrets I will keep for now to myself. The slow tide

of my breath beside you as you fall asleep.

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