Posts Tagged ‘change’




It’s not like the toaster

keeps secrets. Everyone

knows that all it does

is add heat for a short

duration. But that’s

all it takes to turn

something stale

into something

somehow sweeter

and warmer and

oddly much

more itself.

Heat. For a bit. That’s all.

And even knowing

this, I let the stale

parts of me stay

stale. I know from experience

that that the heat

will come whether

I choose it or not.

Though sometimes it

will burn down the house

just to toast one slice.

Better to take things

into my own hands.

Sometimes, I take

my own advice.

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One Note from the Wind





another morning,

another chance to be

utterly rearranged

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Think Small




Even the smallest strand of saffron

goldens the rice and lends

its good and earthy bitterness

to each of the ten thousand

grains in the pot.


My friend says she wants

to make a bigger difference,

doubts the effect she has.

There are many ways, I think,

to reach many.


One is to do as the saffron crocus does—

put everything you have

into just a few threads,

then trust they’re potent enough

to change everything.



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Time for a Change

with thanks to Alan Cohen



rearranging the furniture,

that works for a while—

what the heart really wants

is to take out

the walls

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Dave slips the wine thief

into the barrel and siphons

the young red wine. Into my glass,


he spills it and asks what I taste.

Pineapple. Pepper. Currant.

In another, there is cinnamon.


In another, sunshine and almond.

The thief dips again and again

into cab franc and merlot, syrah,


and grapes I’ve never heard of before.

They are all changing,

Dave explains. Come back again


in a month, he says, and they

will all be different. I think

of what a difference a month makes,


how the heart, like wine,

stays essentially the same,

only it’s ever transformed—


the notes it carries, innuendo,

the balance. At last, we reach

the barrel of white, Gewertzraminer.


In my glass sings pear and grapefruit and

summer still shy. Though it, too, is unfinished,

I could drink it all night.


All around us, inside us,

so much is changing. I tell myself

not to fear. There can be pleasure


in this art of change,

exotic and sweet,

a hint of rose petal, spice.



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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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All the Way Home



Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.

—Helen Keller



Three days after

I think the world

is coming apart,

in the back seat

of the car

my daughter

is improvised

by a song—

I eavesdrop

as she mumbles


to an accidental


change is



is wonderful.

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Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same river.




wading this same stream

so long my skin pruned,

my feet numbed,

and this strange sense that yet again

I’ve been baptized


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How Soon Things Change


for e.m.m.



The amaryllis

you gave us

three weeks ago

grew two inches

just today—

so much life

in such a short time.

Already, the two

thick buds

are swelling,

twin green


So much of

any miracle

is invisible,

though it happens

right before

our eyes.

I can hardly stop

watching the buds

and thinking

of you, wishing

for a miracle

and knowing

that even if

one is rising

up right now,

it wouldn’t

be like the amaryllis—


as this flower is,

we know

it’s red petals

that emerge. No,

what I wish

for you

is something

I couldn’t possibly


I couldn’t name

or predict, something

that will rise out of

what seems to be

nothing and render

us astonished,

humbled, delirious

with its impossible




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Day One




“You know,” says the old man,

“all those corny old sayings are true.”


We are seaside in Bristol at a playground.

My children squeal and chase each other


and I am lost in global thoughts of should and should not,

forgiveness and pride, and who did what


first to whom, and the old man does two pull ups

on the monkey bars. His dress shoes and red socks


dangle beneath him as he lifts and drops, lifts

and drops. Mid-seventies, I guess.


“You can do it, too,” he says, smiling at me.

“No,” I say, “I can’t do it.”


“Today,” he says, “you just hang and pull.

You might not think you move at all.


Then, tomorrow, you’ll be a little higher.

In five days, your chin will be up at the bar.”


Sometimes we guard ourselves with an armor of no,

but hiding inside is a glimmer of yes that,


given any encouragement at all, will grow

into a willingness to be vulnerable.


“Okay,” I say, “I will try it.”

I stand beneath the bars, and raise


my arms and grip the metal and pull.

Nothing happens. “First,” he says,


“you have to believe you can do it.”

I fight to not roll my eyes, but


I tense my arms again and try,

and I move up the slightest bit.


He smiles. “You know what they say,

before you can take the second step


you have to take the first.” Again,

I pull up and feel myself lift,

perhaps an inch. For this moment,


I almost believe anything could happen, given time.

Like a woman who could not lift her own weight


could do so. And a nation that would not forgive

could love. And one stranger with a smile


and some old wisdom could open the minds

of the people he meets, one pull up at a time.



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