Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

Let longing be longing.
Though it rises in me
with insistent hunger.
Though it clutches for my heart
with outstretched hands,
pins me with pleading eyes
Let longing be longing.
Never has it worked
to pretend I don’t hear it
as it shouts its demands
or charms me with silken promises.

In a vision I said no to the longing,
and the longing only grew
like a shadow on the wall.
But when I said yes, longing, I see you
(and what was it that was saying yes?
a voice not me, but through me)—
the yes filled me like a warm and golden glow,
color of sunrise, color of pollen,
and there was nothing it could not touch—
this woman, this longing,
the shadow itself.

Where does this yes come from?
I don’t know. But now everything
is infused with its light
and the longing is longing
and I am a woman who sometimes longs
for what she cannot have.
Even the no is shining.


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Today it is somehow easy to know I will die.
Meeting mortality feels as possible, as natural
as inviting someone over for tea.
Caffeine or no caffeine, I ask.
Mortality shrugs as if it’s all the same.
I settle on the new tea I bought yesterday,
assam with rose petals. It’s dark and floral
and makes the mouth come alive.
You’re really not afraid of me today?
mortality asks. I shrug and say, Not right now.
We sip from our cups and stare out at the field
where the wind is whipping the tall grasses
in rhythmic pulses. “It’s good,” says mortality.
I nod. And we sit in content silence.
There just isn’t much to say.  
When our cups are empty, mortality
doesn’t leave. It occurs to me then
my invitation to tea wasn’t necessary.  
Mortality was already here.
It moves with me as I rise to clear the dishes,
as I wash the cups, as I walk out
into the wind, into the field.

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When she opened the door,
she could not have known
how the winds would enter, too,
how soon the sands of loss
would blow across the hearth
until drifts filled every corner,
rising in every room,
rising until she knew
the door would never close again.
All she had wanted
was to let in the light.
She could not have known
how the sands of loss
would bury the shovel,
bury the broom,
bury even her will to believe
she could ever again
lock out the world.
How gently now they hold her,
these silken dunes she once
tried to exclude.
She curls into their drifts like a nest.
So easily now the moon enters
spilling shine across the sand.
No longer needing to knock,
it offers her all the light it has.

This poem was inspired by a work of art by fine art photographer Marisa S. White, “Drift into the Unknown.” BY THE WAY!!! (I wasn’t going to tell you about this yet, but what the heck!) … this image is also the cover art for my new poetry album (!!!) Dark Praise, 14 poems of “endarkenment” with amazing guitarist Steve Law. More on that soon. This image will be paired with another poem for the album, but when Marisa asked me to write a poem specifically for this image, how could I refuse!? It haunts me, this image–in the best way. 

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Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.
            —Mary Oliver, “It Was Early”
There is no lovely way to put this.
It was sleeting. I am not going to tell you
how the gray sky unfolded like a somber rose,
how the misty air softened every dark
and barren thing. It was sleeting.
And slick. And when I fell, it hurt.
A lot. But I got up. I got up.  

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When fear scuttled through her thoughts
with its eight slender legs; when she recognized
the shiny black body, the bulbous abdomen;
when fear found all her corners and began
to weave inside her mind a home of steel-strong silk;
she did not try to befriend the fear.
Nor did she try to squash it,
though she had a sturdy book.

Not that she wasn’t afraid. In fact,
fear seemed reasonable, if she threatened the fear first.
Instead, as if she were her own sweet child,
she took herself by the hand
and walked right up to the web to explore—
noted the upper structural threads,
the tangle threads in the middle,
the vertical threads in the bottom designed to trap.

Every day she walked back to the web
and stared wide-eyed at the fear hanging upside down,
and then she’d leave and wander
in other rooms where there was low-angled light
the way Renoir might have painted it,
or rooms of flowers, or rooms of song,
rooms of laughter, rooms of starlight,
warm rooms with nothing in them at all.

Eventually she could predict where the fear would be.
Could walk right to its brand new web.

We couldn’t say she liked the fear there.
We couldn’t say she didn’t miss it when it left.

We could say she found a way not to feed it.
We could say that while it lived in her,
she found a way to meet it.

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Because it is dark
I walk in the dark,
walk with no moon,
walk with the chill
of the measureless dark.
There is peace that comes
from letting the self
be with the world
as it is, and tonight,
it’s a dark world,
a world where I cannot see
far ahead, a world
of silhouette and suggestion,
a world that seems
to cherish whispers
and relish mystery,
a world where
the invitation is
to walk in the dark
without wishing it away,
without championing its opposite,
the invitation is
to be one who learns
how to live with the dark.

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Inspired by “Impasse des Deux Frères” by Vincent van Gogh and Kayleen Asbo’s musical response, “Moulins de Gallette.”

Some days, like today, I long for rain,
long for the muted, grey kind of day
that unfolded in the oils of van Gogh,
when he’d stroll through the flat
and quiet daytime streets of Montmartre,
those dreamy hours when the world
is not too bright, not overly exultant,
not too sure of its gaiety,
a day when the wind is the only thing
that feels it needs to move,
when I don’t need to know anything
about anything, can notice how
the world resists resolution,
how the barest scrap of color
can change the whole scene,
can let myself be content to be gray,
can let myself be a student of windmills,
notice how it’s the invisible forces
like silent love, like persistent wind,
that make the whole world spin.

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Today grief is a long, steady rain
and the thing to do is to walk
in the long and steady rain.
The thing is to let the face
get wet, let the clothes get wet,
let the hair get wet and plastered
against the cheeks, the neck.
The thing is to meet the soaking world
and the soaking skin and the soaking
shoes and the soaking dreams
and not pretend it’s dry.
Whatever longing there is for dryness,
it is soaking, too. Because it is raining,
the thing to do is to walk in the long
and steady rain, to walk in the sodden,
soaking world, to trust that it will
not rain forever, to breathe in the scent
of the wet, wet earth, to be wet
in the wet, wet world.

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Let’s say there’s a window
at the end of a long dark hall—
the more we walk toward it
the farther away it feels.
And then, let’s say, we stop
trying to get anywhere and meet
where we are. That is how
I found myself on the other side
of the window, released
into sky—blue sky, then tangerine
sky, then sky dusky pink.
That is how I found myself
talking with my son the way
we used to whenever he went
to camp—through the sky.
Only this time we didn’t talk.
We just were. Together.
I would say we were fused,
but more truly, perhaps, commingled,
as if our atoms were diffused enough
to commune. To know this
for a moment is to know it
forever—how it is that
there is no separation.
How it is that we are one.

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But I found myself
rigid in the room where my son
took his life. And I sat
on the floor in the doorway
where he had last sat,
where his blood had pooled
and the air had briefly smelled
of burning. I sat there
beneath the wall
where the bullet had made
its narrow hole. I sat there
with my coil of sorrow.
I didn’t want to meet it.
I desperately wanted to meet it.
I wanted to give sorrow space.
I wanted to crawl inside it.
I wanted to be anywhere
but there on the dark wood floor
in the night dark room,
and I wanted to be wholly,
completely, obliteratingly there.
Fear-ridden, ferocious,I met it all,
felt the current pushing through.
Acceptance is a filament
that takes our resistance
and makes it bright,
makes it luminous enough
that we might see ourselves
exactly as we are.
I did not find my son
in that doorway. Perhaps
I had hoped I would.
But I saw the light
that came with me.
I softened into that light.

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