Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

Love Lessons



When the favorite sweater

becomes threadbare at the wrists

and already you’ve mended it

repeatedly: when you find yourself sewing

on top of your sewing and there

is little left of original thread,

is this when you decide

that the sweater is better worn

with holes, that not everything

needs fixing, that sometimes

what is most loved is what

is most beyond repair?

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One Agreement



wondering again

why did it happen—because

says the world, it did happen

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Yesterday I found a bird on the ground outside the window. Remember how I had told you about the two pairs of Bullock’s Orioles at our feeder? It was one of the females. I was too squeamish to pick her up with my bare hands. Someone at some time told me about the bacteria on birds, and like so many other stories, I let it define my actions even though I don’t know that it’s true.


I did pick it up, however, fashioned a little stretcher out of cottonwood sticks and carried the bird to the deep grass.


Though it was at the feeder the day before, already it was gone enough to have lost its eyes, now two little sunken spaces where the head pulled in on itself. But the small body was not yet rigid, and it hung, limp, over the sticks.


I sang a death song, as I always do, sometimes out loud, sometimes in my head. It was taught to me by Art. “Nothing lives long, nothing lives long, nothing lives long, not even the mountain.”


I remember the day Art changed the lyric. For many years, he had sung the final phrase, “nothing lives long but the earth and the mountain.” Perhaps like all things

that are new, it trembled something me. The old words were so comfortable and familiar in my ears, my mouth. I suspect the real reason they shook me was the truth of them. Nothing lives long. Not even the mountain.


How small we are. Sometimes, like yesterday, I let my sadnesses and worries become so big, much bigger than my body. I can’t contain them and they spill. It was beautiful to watch how, on that flood of my sorrow, you found a boat and sat in it and showed me it was possible.


Why did I think the deep grass was a better place for the body of the bird? I didn’t question the voice that told me to take her there. Perhaps we are all heading into the unkempt field, a place where we are open and hidden at the same time.


I watched the other three birds all day as they flew from feeder to cottonwood. They were a braid of song, seldom staying in one place for long.


Nothing lives long. It’s no revelation, but sometimes an old truth finds wings in us. And so it was when you told me yesterday, just before you drove away, that I needed to stop hoping things would change—that I needed to decide if I could be happy with things just as they are. Only minutes later I found the bird. Though the two events didn’t seem connected at the moment, now they are like two drops that become one water.


And so this morning, I join you in the boat. Although it is just a metaphor, I notice that it changes things not to be swimming in the waters of wishing things were different. I notice how there are no oars in the boat, and how part of me longs for control and part of me has already found the freedom to stare at the sky.


And there they are, the three orioles, their yellow feathers flashing as they rearrange the air. And there she isn’t, the oriole now laying in the field.


Later today I will fill the feeder. There are some things we can do.



Your friend,






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unable to hold things together

I open my hands, let everything drop

and feel how the world holds me

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Standing on the stoop of your heart,

hand poised above the doorbell,

hoping you’ll open the door,

hoping you’ll keep it open.

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I wanted to be more like you,

I did. I wanted to fit in

your hummingbird world

with its hummingbird nests

and its delicate wings and

its predisposition toward

delicate things, such as

tea cups and flowers

and gossamer strings.

So I painted my body

with delicate swirls

and colorful, whimsical

intricate whorls, and I tried

to fit my whole self inside

your dainty settings,

I tried, I tried to be more

like you, but there is no hiding

these giant gray legs and

this massive gray trunk

and these floppy gray ears.

It’s obvious. I am an elephant,

dear, and I just can’t squeeze into

this fragile world.

I belong home

in the elephant herd.

And I’m sorry I broke your fine

china cups. It’s so evident now

I can’t fit in them, but …

well, sometimes we need

to fail to learn. We need to digress

before we return.

I still think you’re lovely,

though slightly absurd,

oh beautiful, delicate,

bright hummingbirds.

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Poor violets don’t know any better.
They only know it’s been warm for weeks
and the grass is greening and the frost is gone
from the soil. It’s uneasy pleasure, watching
their small blue faces appear so early this year.
Part of me does not want to enjoy them—
the part that longs for cold, for snow,
for the winter that has not come.
One day, there will be nothing left to say.
For now, there are violets blooming
outside the kitchen door. They are beautiful,
nodding in the breeze, no matter
which direction the wind blows.

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You cannot always tell by looking
what is happening. On the outside,
she is smiling, apparently flourishing.
Inside, there is a terrible secret
even she does not yet know. There
was a whisper of it, but she found it easy
to listen instead to the geese with their
raucous arrival, or to listen to the song
of the river pushing through the ice.
Okay, some part of her knows it,
but she is not yet ready to admit anything.
She is perhaps like the tree riddled on the inside
with beetles. At first glance, it looks like nothing more
than a few little holes, but under the bark
there are girdling tunnels. It will be a long time
before she will hear the soft chorus
of dry needles falling. By then,
it will be impossible not to notice
that something is very, very wrong.
By then it will be much too late.

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In the same breath that I curse the world
I praise it. It is impossible not to see
what a mess we’ve made, and yet … how
relentlessly beautiful the rabbit brush
blooms in the ditch, all yellow and vigorous,
growing out of the busted up asphalt
and Marlboro boxes and twisted beer cans.
It’s no miracle, you might say. It’s just a weed.
But I know a miracle when I see one.
It looks a lot like whatever is happening
outside the window right now.

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(another poem for Lian Canty’s Alphabet Menagerie project)

Obey the poem’s emerging form.
—Jack Mueller

This is the poem in which you accept
that anything might happen next.

A red umbrella might fall from the sky
and offer a ride to Belgium.

A constellation of bright sea urchins might
walk by on their tiny transparent adhesive

tube feet. Or perhaps a petulant cherub,
unhappy with a day full of broken hearts,

might urinate on the next line. It happens
in poems all the time—the improbable,

the profane, paired side by side
with the miraculous. Like love. Unicorns, well,

they are more often saved for fairy tales and
UFOs, they belong more to sci fi texts.

But why not have them here? In this poem, ukeleles
might serenade the next stanza with their sweet Hawaiian twang

and their hint of exotic happiness.
An umbrella parakeet might fly its way in,

or a strange man might enter
and wonder “Why?” It happens,

it happens in poems all the time. Though
there are never any simple answers. Always paradox.

The Great Bear in Ursa Major just might hunch over
any errant rhymes and strew them like stars

across the sky. Or a cow might stroll through
with its pale pink udders reminding you

of other things you have never done.
Oh, there you are, you made it

at last into the poem. I was hoping
you would show up, not like in one of those

terrible dreams where you’re wearing only
your underwear and you’re afraid everyone

will notice. No, here you are, ready to do
whatever the poem asks of you, which is

to say yes to whatever happens next,
though the poem is as unstable as uranium,

as fickle as a butterfly in a whole field
of open flowers, and you will be asked to make peace

with not knowing what the poem really means.
And yes, you will say, yes. And you will perhaps see

how you are the umbrella, the seven stars, the parakeet,
the urchins slowly moving their way across the sea.

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