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Exactly a year ago I posted a message instead of a poem, explaining I needed a time away. Two weeks later I explained why. It was almost two months later I posted my son Finn’s obituary. In the last year, I have been so humbled by the love and support and kindness of people. So many of you reached out to me in some way, and whether it was with a letter, an email, a gift, a call, a prayer, your thoughts, a song, or your energetic presence, I am grateful. It has mattered. You, with your love and goodness, you have not only buoyed me, you have changed me. I don’t know how anyone would ever survive such a loss without such an outpouring. I thank you, every one of you, I thank you, I thank you. I am sobbing now thinking of it–all the love. This poem tries to touch it, but, well, it’s just the surface. I am swirling gratefulness around all of you. I honor your losses that have made you who you are, that have made you so tender and generous toward others.
With abiding awe, 
Rosemerry



Though I Knew Love Before



Not until my world dissolved
in an instant did I begin to understand
the communion of hearts.
Not until I could not put one minute
in front of the next did I begin
to understand infinite devotion.
Not until I lost my own flesh did I begin
to understand the muscle of spirit.
I will never love the loss, never,
but I love the life that rushes in after.
I love the intimacy
of those who have lost—
how we find each other and offer
our open embrace, our unwalled affection,
our wildest wishes for peace.
Not until I was consumed
by the great wave of love
did I know not to fear
the great wave of love.
Only then did I learn the beauty
of ceding the self to something much greater.
Only then did I learn how love
not only carries us,
it transforms who we are forever.

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It’s tiny hexagonal ice crystals
in the earth’s atmosphere
that create the bright halo
around the moon.
Think of it,
so many scraps of borrowed light—
so that I shine
becomes the song
of something
with no glow of its own.
Just because its science—
refraction and reflection—
doesn’t mean it’s not a miracle.
Just ask anyone who, for a time,
has lost their own light
then receives it from another
who received it from another,
and soon they find themselves
part of a radiant circle of light
where before
there was only ice.

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It’s Christmas and the yard,
grassy again from unseasonal rain,
is abloom with dozens of robins—
robins flitting and bobbing
and weaving unpredictable paths
with their dark gray wings.
They seem harbingers
of an unexpected spring,
as if life is asking them to be more alive
just when it seems as if
everything is dead.
How could I be more alive?
I love that these birds know
how to survive—love that
come winter, they flock.
Because more eyes means
more chances to spot food.
Because more eyes means
fewer chances to become food themselves.
I, too, have been flocking
this winter—surrounding myself
with other eyes, other hearts,
other wings, other minds.
It feels good to be one of many,
to trust my kind. It feels good
to fly together for this
tenderest time. The truth is,
it isn’t easy. The truth is,
we were made for this.

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I am your daughter.

I have marched in your main street parades,

and in my yard I fly your flag.

I pledge allegiance and sing your anthem.

My uncle and grandfather fought in your wars.

My other grandfather came to your shores

as a young boy and stayed to raise your powerlines.

I climb your mountains and work your soil

and pick up trash on your highways.

I love you, America.

I vote in your polls and raise your children

and volunteer in your schools.

And because you are America,

I pay your taxes and call my senators

and protest in your streets.

I read your poets, relearn your history,

travel your back roads and cheer your teams.

You made me, America.

And I pray for you. And I pray in the way I choose to pray

because we can do that in America.

America, did we forget

our differences are what make us great?

Remember, America, the dream!

The wind is fierce today,

and I love the way it inspires the flag to wave into life.

Whatever is fierce around us is an invitation

to show up. Whatever is difficult

is a call to bring our best.

Whatever is uncertain is a chance

to be clearer in our thoughts, more generous in our speech.

America, it’s not a president

that makes our country great—

it’s us. How we treat each other.

How we meet our mistakes.

How we become the wind that raises the flag.

How our own hearts must be the home of the brave.

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for J Unterberg

In the picture on the news,

the little black girl holds a sign

that says, I’m your next president.

And in the grocery store,

the clerk smiles at me from behind her mask

and compliments my dress.

Consumed as I’ve been

with a sorrow so great

it swallowed our country whole,

I had thought it would take an energy

equally great and opposite

to pull me away from the bleak edge.

But then a stranger walked up to my car

where I was parked on the side of the road

to make sure I was okay. And just like that

I felt myself backing away from the edge,

just a bit, just a bit.

It can be so small, what reminds us

who we are—a people who want

to thrive, to live in peace,

a people who are kind to each other

not because we have earned it, but

because kindness is in our nature.

I want to vote for that little girl,

want to help create the just world she rises in.

I want to help someone else

back away from the edge,

just a bit, just a bit, another bit.

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Big Eden

 

 

 

As surely as I know how to spell harvest,

I understood today that no matter our job titles,

our work is gardener: always the same:

Plant the seeds. Tend what grows. Nourish.

Pinch back. Repeat. What a gift to see, at last,

the size of the garden. What a gift

to be in service to the world—to pull up

our sleeves, to smell the earth, to take

what we’ve been given and make it better,

to feed the others, to do it again.

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like Merino wool, with its fine hairs,

its fibers short, useless alone,

 

that is all of us, easily broken,

weak, unable to do much,

 

but those single hairs, when rolled

together and twisted into thread

 

become not only strong,

not only useful, but beautiful.

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There are monks who sing

for the laity—May you be happy,

and today I sing it, too,

though I have not been

anointed and have no special

sway, but I stitch my song

into the morning’s ferocious wind

and send it everywhere,

May you be well.

The wind rips the words

from my lips. I sing them

again. This is all

we have in this world,

the way we choose

to meet it.

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More and more, I have come to admire resilience.

            —Jane Hirshfield, “Optimism”

And when the snap peas ran out of fence to climb,

they created a living trellis of leaf and vine

and climbed up themselves and each other,

winding and twisting toward the sun.

There’s green inside our limbs, friends.

There’s braiding to be done.

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We will learn we cannot live

without each other—those who fight

 

and those who chant for peace,

those who vote for more government

 

and those who vote for less.

We will come to know, as E. O. Wilson says,

 

that our need to oppose the other

rises out of our biology

 

and it serves us, though it looks

sometimes like war.

 

We are falling together,

no matter which side we’re on.

 

We will learn that the only way

to rise is together, too—though it may

 

not look anything like we thought

it would. Every day, the world

 

grows more insistent. Every day

more reasons to drop our certainties

 

and listen.

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