Posts Tagged ‘cruelty’

Sticks and stones may break my bones
but words plant thousands of tiny malicious seeds
that remain viable for a hundred years,
seeds that spring up in any season,
pushing their basal rosettes
through the rocky soil of self-doubt.
I suspect you don’t even remember casting
the seeds, but I have weeded them
from me for decades, tugged at them,
cursed when the tap roots snap
and the thorned stems of those old words
come back twice as strong.

Sometimes now, there are seasons
when none of your seeds come up.
Sometimes, on purpose, I let them grow and bloom,
surprised that out of something cruel
something beautiful still manages to thrive.
Sometimes those prickly bouquets
help me remember who I’m not, who I am.

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On a day when the world is cruel,

I do not try to fall in love with cruelty.

No, I invite myself to fall in love

with the what is beneath what is cruel.

In the meadow, it is a herd of elk walking through the snow.

In the room, it is a kitten curled in a crescent on the couch.

In myself, it is the part of me that defies any label—

woman/man, Christian/Jew, good/bad, knower/unknower.

I invite that ineffable part of me to go find itself

in the world. And everything is beautiful then.

There is nothing I cannot love.

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In it Together

Will you go with me,
circle no or yes.
That was all the note said,
signed Louie.
It passed hand to hand
beneath the tables
in the back of sixth-grade English.
I circled yes, sent it back,
and waited for Louie
after class by the door.
Perhaps a sign
of true love.
Three days later the Gooch
told me it was a joke.
Everyone knows, she said.
I called him that night
at his home. Is it true?
I asked him. He mumbled
something about how it had
all started that way, but
that he thought I was nice
and maybe we should
go together. He still
ignored me, like he always
did. Did not choose me
in gym to be on his side.
Did not sit at my table
at lunch. Did not chase me
at recess. Did not call.
Did not send any more notes
on wide-rule paper.
I don’t remember now
if I cried. But I wonder
tonight what kind of man
he became, and if he
perhaps came to have
a daughter who was,
like me, the third most
unpopular girl in the class.
And just what would he
say to the neighbor boy who would
treat his girl like that?
And who have I hurt?
Who sits in the kitchen
late at night and then,
for no reason, recalls the time
that I made them feel small.
I am sorry, whoever you are.
Forgive me. I am learning
this art of humanity
hour by hour by hour.

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