Posts Tagged ‘brain’

            with thanks to Joi Sharp

When my teacher told me
Everything we love can
and will be taken from us,

I did not know how she
was preparing in me
a synaptic path.

I understood her words
in the way one understands a journey
by reading a map.

Now, ten years later, with every breath
I travel this path of loss
as so many others have before me,

and yet there is no trail, no signposts,
no destination, and the path changes direction
from moment to moment.

But the path does not feel foreign.
Every turn of it is paved with truth—
Everything we love can and will be taken from us.

Those words now offer
the strange comfort of prophecy
as I wander these trails of impermanence,

stunned with gratitude even as I weep,
alive with loving what doesn’t last,
astonished by the enormity of love—

how love is the red thread that pulls us through,
not a thread to follow,
but a guide that never, ever leaves the path.

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When the brain is separated from the heart, it is capable of doing terrible things to each other and the planet.

—Jane Goodall

And so I try to tend the path each day

between brain and heart.

Whatever smallnesses I trip on,

I try to remember to bow as I remove them.

Whatever weeds try to overrun it—

weeds of should and shame—

I try to yank them out, knowing full well

I never get the whole root.

The more I travel the path,

the easier it is—

though steep sometimes,

and the effort to go on

makes me weep.

And sometimes, it feels unfamiliar,

though I’m sure I’ve travelled this way before.

Frightened, lost, tired, exposed—

yet I try to find and preserve the path.

Because the stakes are too high

when the path is gone.

Because the healing is so great

when I honor the path

step by stubborn step.

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We are perhaps like neurons

that never touch—

but that doesn’t stop

the chemical buzz,

the lightning charge,

the electric thrill

that leaps the gap—

and in that span

all meaning is made,

long red ropes of memory

twisting and knotting,

braiding, unbraiding,

and nothing

is ever the same.

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Somewhere in the 100 billion cells

of my brain is the memory

of the playground in second grade

when Jenny told me birds could fly

because their bones were hollow,

and, she reasoned, if we could lose

enough weight, we, too,

could have hollow bones, and we, too

could fly.


Surely linked to that memory

are thousands of other neurons

that disprove her claim—

neurons related to air pressure, thrust,

strong breast muscles, osteoporosis—

but there is, perhaps,

still one cell in there somewhere

across the synaptic gap,

that lights up at the memory

of Jenny’s suggestion

as if to say,

wow, that’s cool,

let’s try it.












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Dear Scarecrow




I, too, wish to confer with the flowers.

I, too, wish to consult with the rain,

but I have spent so many years

learning that I’ve lost the ability

to speak and listen in these natural tongues.

Today I sat beside an old spruce tree

for an hour and never understood

what it had to tell me. I tried.

Perhaps that is the problem, the trying.

I don’t know how to do it any other way.

Oh Scarecrow, I know too much.

Me and all my certainties. I’ve made walls

out of what I took as wisdom, and now

I cannot see around them. I made

stories out of facts and histories, and now

I cannot hear the spruce. I can barely

hear my own wild heart as it shouts

in some strange language I have

filed away or perhaps I never knew?

Oh this brain, how it costumes

everything else into terms of risks,

probabilities and rules.

How I long to listen clearly

to the flowers, to the rain,

to my heart, to the spruce.

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Musca Domestica

The deep similarities we see between how our brains and those of insects regulate behavior suggest a common evolutionary origin. It means that prototype brain circuits, essential for behavioral choice, originated very early and have been maintained across animal species throughout evolutionary time.

—Frank Hirth, Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London, reported in Science

Sometimes there’s a twitching,
a rapid rubbing of the hands,
a longing to hang out
in the corner of the room,
an impulse to taste
whatever is left
on the counter,
this instinct
to be close to you,
no matter how many times
you shoo me

after Fugu, by D.R. Goodman

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