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Posts Tagged ‘community’

 

for Jennifer 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, winding

and twisting toward the sun—

there’s green inside your limbs.

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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Come quick, said the math teacher,

grabbing me and my daughter by the hand

and rushing us past the school’s edifice

where he pointed east at rainbow

made of ice crystals hung in the air—

an ice rainbow! he exclaimed—

and we applauded with our eyes

until all three of us ran back into the shadows

to pull others to street corner,

sharing in the thrill that we did not

arrive too early, too late,

our breath coming out in misty curls,

silent, visible prayers.

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These, too, are your family,

any who would build a wall,

any who would throw a stone.

The other is your sister,

your brother, your mother.

Pick up the stones

and build fire circles

where everyone’s voice

can be heard.

Tear down the walls

and use the debris

to build bridges.

Tattoo these words

on your hands,

on your tongue:

we are all in this

together.

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And if you are lucky, you might stand

in the place where the horses were loaded

before they were led to look for gold, for silver.

There are journeys you, too, wish to take,

though you know now that the journeys

you long for the most are often made

by pledging yourself to a place.

The old stone walls were built with flow in mind.

Even now, they keep nothing out—not the sunlight,

not the wind, not the curve of your imagination.

And every window is an invitation

to see the same beauty framed a new way.

What might be possible here? No way to pretend

to predict the infinite. Still, this chance

to show up, to serve our own passion

in a toast to potential, and to be humbled

by our own hearts so eager to be opened.

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for B

I would like to pour light
into all your frightened spaces,
and wherever you are tired,
I would like to bring a beautiful dream.
And your wounds, still festering
beneath scars, I want to bring salve
that will heal even the past
through a blend of forgetfulness and grace
so that you can walk back into the world
with your own pitcher of light
and dreams and salve to share,
perhaps you could even spare
a little light, a little softness,
a little grace
for me.

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