Posts Tagged ‘aloneness’


            Finnish: The feeling when you are going to get drunk home alone in your underwear—with no intention of going out. (pronounced CAHL-sahr-ree-CAN-neet)

Let’s say a woman worked in the garden all day
pulling up old kale and bolted chard and harvesting
potatoes and garlic and onions, and let’s say
her whole evening plan is to stay home
and shower and not get dressed,
and sip on a glass of wine, or whiskey
until she is sweetly light-headed,
well, wouldn’t it be lovely if there were a word
to describe her aspirations? A word
she could write in her calendar to be sure
no other loud plans swooped in. A word
she could say if her friends called and asked
what was happening tonight. And if
no one should call, she could say it to herself
for the joy of saying it—Kalsarikännit—
as she toasted the air, clinking her glass
against all that isn’t there.
And the wind on her skin, so brisk.
And the wine, so heady, so dry.

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The mother walked
in a deep river gorge
forged by water and time.
She knew herself alone.
She moved with no urgency.
She stepped as if she’d forgotten
what time was.
She paused at the wild currants
and pulled the small red fruits
into her mouth.
She paused on the bridge
and watched the water
continue its forging.
She paused on a flat rock,
removed her shoes
and slipped her feet
into the cold water.
She did not mind
the hem of her black dress
spilling into the stream.
She sat.
She didn’t weep until she did.
She wept until she didn’t.
She sat until she forgot
she was sitting.
She sat until
there was a clearing in her
the way the river will eventually clear
after it’s been muddied by the rain.
There’s no magic number
for how many minutes
or hours or years
it takes to clear.
It is, perhaps, sufficient to know
clearing happens.
At some point, she rose
and walked toward home.
She was not alone.
There was nothing that was not beautiful.

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In Orbit

Count the one beautiful blue and green planet.
Count it again.
Say “home,” then marvel at the taste of tears.
Notice how no borders matter from here.
Remember how important they feel
when standing on a border. Once
you dreamt of being alone. Of being
far away from parking lots and grocery store lines
and men with guns and violent conviction.
Now you dream of touching someone else,
of breathing in the scent of garden dirt,
of hearing a voice without static, of lying down
in a bed, held by your own sweet gravity.
What you would do to taste a tree-ripened peach.
Give up on counting stars. Draw lines between them,
creating your own constellations:
The open hand. The river gorge. The crooked evergreen.
A semi-automatic rifle, which you re-constellate
into a small bouquet of lilies. Consider forgiveness.
Wonder how long it will take before it feels authentic.
Circling has taught you how things come around.
Remember? There was a time you didn’t think
you knew how to pray.

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In Room 224




My daughter is still asleep

after stealing the sheets

all night. I finally let her

have them all and I’ve risen

to watch the snow not fall

outside the window.

It is gray, and from where

I sit on the floor, I’m not sure

if it’s gray because it’s too early

for sun or because it’s cloudy.

I don’t want to move

or make a sound—

would rather not wake

my daughter. They are rare,

these moments alone.


A truck rattles by outside.

I notice I am noticing the truck.

That’s a lot of noticing

for something so insignificant,

I think to myself,

then I’m startled by a laugh,

a full belly laugh, in the bed

beside me. My daughter, dreaming,

can’t stop giggling.

God, I think, it’s great

to have a body,

and on this cold, gray morning,

gratitude finds me and

body slams me

with my wild luck,

pins me with joy

to be this very woman

on the floor in room 224

not at all alone.


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Even though I know you don’t read poems,

I want to thank you for calling me last night

when your living room was too big for one,

when all the ex-lovers were somewhere else

and even the kids were gone. Thank you

for calling me to say how alone it is.

For half an hour, we were alone together,

weeping and laughing in our separate rooms.

Just tonight I realized I do not know how gravity works.

Something to do with mass. And distance.

How much of what rules us do we not understand?

The vase falls and it breaks. We know that and learn

to be more gentle with our hands. It’s more

out of habit than true understanding. Our loneliness,

too, is a kind of a rule that we spend our whole lives

trying to change, but it is always there.

Eventually we come to see that everything

will be taken from us. Our aloneness is all that is left.

It is only frightening until it is not. Then it frightens us again.

Thank God we are here to explore it together,

this alarming lack of anything to hold onto.

When we say goodbye, it is gentle. We both know

what it feels like to break. There is too much at stake

not to love each other, alone and distant as we are.

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only one other
set of footprints in the snow
beside mine—
I try not to hold it against them
for not being yours

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I remember how,
as I was free falling,
for weeks I fell,
so many hands reached
out for me as if
to save me from falling.

I extended my own hand,
not to catch hold, but
to wave as I passed.
I knew there was nothing
anyone could do
to stop the plummeting.

There was
no sorrow in this.
I was falling. That was
the way it was.
And then one day
I was not.

I don’t remember
how it stopped. There
was no violence.
No pain. No crash.
No blood. No bruises.
No scars.

Even knowing this,
as I watch you fall,
my hands can’t
stop themselves
from reaching.

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We follow the call. It leads us deeper and deeper.
—Joi Sharp

Inside, I think I hear the call of crow,
and walk outside to find where it is singing.
Crow is nowhere to be seen, no winging
cross the blue. Not in the trees. And no
more song. I listen. Listen. Listen. Oh!
I hear it there, through pinions, a small hinging
in the air, and try to follow, swinging
my legs over cactus patches, deer scat, snow,
an old barbed wire fence strung low, what’s that?
Another bird. What’s that? A hidden creek.
Where is the crow? I stop, perch on a stone.
Caw. I startle, looking for the black
outline of bird. It’s here, I think, and meet
my shadow, flapping in the sun, alone.

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