Posts Tagged ‘fear’

One for the Hospital




like a child hiding

in plain view with her hand

over her eyes,

fear tiptoes into the room,

a bomb ticking in her pocket

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The Worrier Goes for a Ride




And then, as I was walking the dirt road,

it hit me like a school bus: people

might not like me. I felt the rush of air before

the bumper connected with my butt, and knew

in that moment I could choose to be flattened or

choose to somehow crawl into that bus

and ride along with the jeers and snarls and sneers.

Okay, I said, as I clawed my way around the yellow fender

to the open door, a stowaway on my fear.

I climbed the green stairs and felt their stares:

icy, cruel, fierce. Others indifferent, bored.

I stared back, prepared to feel small.

Hello, I said, waiting for shame. But

that’s not what I felt at all. Instead,

some seed of awareness that I was not splattered

by fear but alive, and now moving in one direction

with this busload of what frightened me so,

And I was not flattened nor crushed nor bruised.

I took my seat. Felt their eyes on my back.

And the bus kept driving along. When it stopped,

I stepped off, surprisingly whole.

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The bear is in no hurry

as he moves toward you.

He does not turn away.

Though you yell. Though

you wave your arms above

your head. Though

you plant your legs wide.

He just ambles up the steep

dirt road and focuses on you.


At first, it’s not unnerving.

You’ve seen bears before.

But this bear is interested.

This bear keeps you near.

You walk backwards up the hill.

The bear matches your pace.

You lose sight around the curve.

A few steps later, it’s still there.


You shout until your voice is hoarse.

The bear is undeterred.

The moment loves and hates itself.

You think it could be worse.

You think it could be better.

You shout and wave and walk.


It is only later, after the man

in the old black pickup truck

has rescued you

that you let yourself wonder

how else the story could bend.

And your heart emerges,

something big and wild,

surprising you with its ferocity,

its unswerving strides.




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My child, I say, you need not fear the night—

its unlit corners, rooms of dim unknown—

the darkness helps us learn beyond the light.


But mom, how do I know that you’re alright

if I can’t see you? I feel so alone.

My child, I say, there’s goodness in the night.


The dark erases any lines we might

have drawn, makes all the world appear as one.

The dark helps us to see beyond the light.


But mom, I don’t feel safe without my sight.

What if there’s monsters, spiders, things that groan?

My child, I say, there’s kindness in the night.


You feel how darkness holds the whole world tight?

Embracing every human, creature, stone—

the darkness helps us reach beyond the light.


It hugs us all, despite our wrongs, our rights,

inviting everyone into its home.

My child, I say, you need not fear the night—

the darkness helps us love beyond the light.

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On a Difficult Day



Because I don’t know how to pray,

I do what I know to do,

which is to sit very quietly

and let myself feel. To hold you

without holding you.

To imagine your fear

and breathe into it.

To feel my own fear

and walk the edges of its cliffs.

To lean on hope with its flimsy

net and feel how little it takes

to catch us, to save us.


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The pre-dawn light has already

claimed the stars so that anything

I might try to name in the sky

has disappeared—though there

is still one planet dazzling and white

just above the horizon. Perhaps

it’s better that I don’t know

how to name it, know only

to praise it, it’s small insistence

on light the only thing

I need to know.




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Oh yeah, I say,


I let you

sneak up on me.

I knew you were there.

I chose to wear this coat

of goose bumps

so you couldn’t guess

just how strong

I feel,

how fine.


Oh yeah, says the fear,

too scared to confess

you’re not as brave

as other people

think you are?


Oh yeah,

say the goosebumps,

speaking for themselves,

Oh yeah. Oh yeah.



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Self Talk




Even after I turn off the radio

there is a red voice below my gut

that repeats, “You should be very afraid.”


Out the passenger window

I see three elk bedded down

in the snow beneath a spruce,


and then I am past them,

looking up valley at the mountains

where the wind blows the snow


in long white curls off the peaks.

I want to return, I think,

to a different chapter—


but I don’t believe it.

There are no fewer opportunities

now to fall in love,


and there are a whole lot more

chances to be of service.

I tell myself I was born


for exactly this life—

born to see the frosted cottonwood trees

on the valley floor


flood with the low light of morning,

born to meet the fear in my gut

and carry it with me to do brave and beautiful things.



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making of myself a nest to hold your fear, I grow wings I didn’t know were here

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Over the Edge



hic sunt dracones

it says on the Hunt-Lennox globe,

its copper halves wired together.

The words mark

the eastern coat of Asia.

Here are dragons.


Half a century later,

we wonder still

did the maker mean

Komodo dragons?

Sea monsters?

The Dagroian people

whom Marco Polo reported

would eat the dead

and lick their bones?

Or was it simply a nod

to how frightening

it feels at the edge

of the known?


Tonight my son calls me

with an unbearable ache,

his map of the world



Though I am far away,

or perhaps because of that,

we are close.

Our voices say the words

we least want to say.

Our hearts are porous

and soft.


I want to tell him

that the dragons are not

at the edge of the map.

They are inside us.

And sometimes

they are more evil

than the most evil

we could imagine.

And sometimes,

though we’d rather

hate them, they are beautiful.


Instead I tell him

these are difficult times.


The globe, the third oldest

terrestrial globe in the world,

about the size of a grapefruit,

was bought by an architect

named Hunt. He told his friend

he had bought the object

in Paris for a song.

He let his children toy with it.

The friend begged

Hunt to keep the globe safe.


None of us are safe.

I fear I have let my dragons

escape, that they have flown

into my son.


Let him toy with them then,

the old ways of thinking

about the world—

let the unknown

become a place for play.


Here are dragons,

I think, as I redraw

the map, and write

the words on my face.

They sprout wings

and pick me up

with their terrible claws

and fly me to the cliffs

of my life

and drop me

over the edge.








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