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Posts Tagged ‘fear’

 

 

 

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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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,

ha.

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

torn.

 

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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Perhaps Your Hand

Fear is just another weed

with a tap root

and thorns

and a thousand seeds

still viable years

long after the stems

have been pulled

or mowed

or left for dead

and love is just another hand

that knows they’ll return

and still pulls the weeds

again, again, again.

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Beyond Wishing

 

 

 

And when there is fear,

then let us be flowers

unashamed of our blooming,

and let us be rivers undammed.

And when there is loss,

then let us be leaves that surrender to death

and give even more in life.

And when there is ache,

let’s unfold like dawn in layers

and layers of ripening pink,

let’s be bells

that ring only love.

And when there is sorrow,

let us be dark wings

that gather the light,

and let us be the light.

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So dark out there,

of course you’re scared

and want to hide

inside,

but notice how

when you turn off

the lights—I know

it sounds unwise—

that’s when you’ll find

that it’s not black

but gray, the night,

and you can see

quite well once you

let darkness open

slowly up your eyes.

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After Waking

Beneath our boat

a swimming bear—

I tell myself to be afraid

but I’m too delighted

by its brown body,

elongated and sleek

moving like a wave itself

in the clear, clear water.

A marriage, too,

is a boat. Or is it

the bear?

Or is it the man

and the woman

in the boat,

watching beneath them

the most exquisite

dangerous thing,

something that could kill them

but chooses instead

grace.

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