Posts Tagged ‘generosity’




From a brown envelope sent by Amazon,

I pull out Bread and Miracles, a book

of poems I’ve admired for years.

I wrote the author long ago

to tell her I love her poems,

the way she makes devotion

of earthworms and camas lilies.

But there is no way to explain why

her words arrive here in my own kitchen

except through some miracle, which is,

I suppose, another name for kindness.


Whoever you are, sweet sender

of poems, thank you. Thank you

for knowing exactly what book

I might like to receive, though

I’ve never told anyone. Thank you

for knowing there would be a day

when a dear man died and I would need

to remember that goodness thrives,

that generosity flourishes, that

there are people out there who,

out of pure benevolence,

extend themselves to others.


There is a fairy tale in which

bread crumbs are insufficient to save

a brother and sister. But they are saving

this woman, and though I don’t know

where the trail began, I follow it forward

saying thank you, thank you, thank you.



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Kindness is invincible.

—Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 11.18.ix



And though I barely know her,

she met me on the street to give me

a small bottle of perfume. Scent of rose,

amber, white musk, scent of friendship

just beginning, scent of how we might choose

to meet each other—with the wisdom

of blossoms, opening. Already

I’m dreaming of ways to continue

her mischievous generosity,

imagining how each act will carry

a hint of citrus, rose, precious wood.

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trying to pickpocket

the universe—it turned around

and gave me everything


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Five Cents




Finding by chance a buffalo nickel

my son decides to spend his fortune

on a girl he’s never met

who woke one morning

with cancer in her marrow—


he tells me he’s thinking

a lot about death,

and he’s scared,

and I tell him yes,

it’s scary.


Later, I look out the window,

and though there’s not a hint

of leaves on the trees outside,

I feel some certainty

about green and summer,


and I’m amazed at how

just when we think the world

could not get any colder,

we are reminded what even

a tiny bit of warmth can do.

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The sun and I made a promise—

to shine with no apology,

to bring warmth,

to give until we have nothing left to give.

In the night, the sun

entered my sleep

and tattooed my body

with golden words.

Now all my limbs

glitter with this vow—

there is so much beauty

for us to make.

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After all this time
you still pour
pure water
into my chipped cup.
You know
I will spill and still
you pour,
and you pour.
You know, too,
how even
despite great thirst
I will sometimes
refuse to drink,
how even when
the water doesn’t
reach my lips
they are still
with your giving.

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Imagine if the sun
said to the moon
“This sky’s not big enough
for the both of us.”

Instead, it gives
unceasingly light
so that they both
can shine.

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There once was a woman
who sat on cushion
and sat and sat there all day.
And her heart, it kept thumping,
her blood it kept pumping
though never not once did she say,

“I think I should make
my heart slow its rate.”
Not once did she say, “I should breathe.”
She just sat and sat
and smiled and sat
and once or twice she sneezed.

And her bronchial muscles
and red corpuscles,
they did what they’re made to do.
Her urine secretion?
and pupil dilation?
They decreased and dilated, too.

Her salivary glands
needed no commands.
They simply reduced production.
And her bladder walls
didn’t contract at all
and her liver practiced conversion.

In short, she sat
on her cushy mat
and not once did she praise her medulla.
But it worked anyway
and never did say,
you don’t thank me much lady, do ya.

So next time you sit
for a little bit
and notice that you’re still living,
say thanks to your brain
though it never complains,
and try to be just as giving.

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