Posts Tagged ‘generosity’

for my daughter
I want to give you what I could not give you,
a world where there is no hurt or grief.
a world where you don’t know
ravaged and sleepless nights,
don’t know mornings too quiet
or the color of dirt in the cemetery.
Because I cannot give you this,
I want to give you the certainty
that you can live fully in a world
where there is hurt and grief,
that you can meet what is most painful
and at the same time
turn toward what is beautiful.
I want to give you a love so safe
that you grow into yourself
certain that there is nothing
you can do or not do
that could keep me from loving you.
I have been loved like this, too,
and did not know the enormity of the gift
until I longed to give it to you.
I want you to take it for granted
that love is so vast, so unshakeable,
so true. I want to give you the belief
in your resilience, want you to know yourself
as a flower that grows more vigorously
after it’s been cut back.
I would keep the hands from cutting you,
but since I can’t do that,
I want to be the soil, the rain, the sun.
I want to give you what cannot be given,
want to give you what you have given me—
the astonishment of living with you
in a time of hurt and grief
and the miracle of watching you grow.

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for MS

She gave me an hour.
Since then, every minute
has grown from the soil
of that time.
She gave me silence.
It was the wisest teaching.
She did not know me.
She deeply understood my heart.
There was a time
when she, too,
was met with unthinkable loss.
Now she knows
to say the name
of the one who is gone.
She knows not to fix.
She knows the gift
of being seen.
She asked for nothing
in return.
Over a year later,
I remember how she listened
with her eyes.
I remember the generosity
of her gaze.
She lit a candle for my child,
a golden light
on a bed of amethyst.
With that flame,
she has lit hundreds more
through my hand.
Sometimes I wonder
where her flame began,
I think of all the hands
lighting all the candles.
How beautiful that light.
How far we have come
from the dark we have known.

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for Sherry
All it takes is one moonless night
to realize how grateful I am
for those who bring light to the world—
I am thinking of my friend
who travels with lanterns
and hangs them from doorways
wherever she stays.
How she brings long strands of fairy lights
powered by tiny batteries
and then passes them out like party favors
so people might wrap themselves in the glow
and know themselves as carriers of light.   
How today she mailed me a photo
of me and a friend doubled over laughing
with a bright pink stickie note flashing “favorite!”
so that even the mail luminesces.
How, even in the darkest of hours,
she brings her gift for seeing good in others,
and she beacons, she candles, she moons, she stars.

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for Merce & Bert & Heartbeat

It is true that anger, that betrayal,
that loss, but it is also true
that one day you might follow
a map to a high desert clearing
where there is a home
that runs on sunshine and rainwater,
and the floors are the color
of autumn leaves, and the beds are warm
and soft, and generous strangers
feed you thick soup and dark greens,
warm bread and good wine,
and as the clouds all around you lift,
you find yourself surrounded by song
and the love of good women and
the ripeness of years and you know yourself
as yet another soft animal—
like a rabbit or a fawn—a being
blessed to exist without claw,
without fang, a being blessed
for now to label this tenderness life.

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            with gratitude to e.e. cummings, Father Blakeslee and all the other hands
There was perhaps a woman
who saw a thin book of poems
left on a park bench, and because
it was beginning to rain, she picked it up
and noticed it belonged to the library,
and because she was a good woman,
though not much inclined to reading,
she returned it through the metal slot
so the librarians, trained in organization,
could slip it back on the shelves where
it was forgotten amongst other books of verse
until, at last, it was pulled from the stacks
to be sold for pennies by the Friends of the Library.
And a man, a priest, who was looking for fiction,
picked up the old book and saw
how the words leapt across the page
and he thought of a girl he knew
who thrilled with language and how it played,
so he bought the book
and wrote in red pen on the second page,
For Rosemerry, who loves words
with their sometimes and special times,
and even dream time texture!
And she read the inscription, then
read the book. Again. And again.
And her mind was filled with
su nli ght t
and she fell deeper into herself
in new unpredictable ways,
and the words grew in her
like bindweed, tap rooted and
insistent, blooming profusely,
until they changed everything
about the way she saw the world
changed her the way lighting
changes everything,
filled her with wild potential
and a belief in communion and possibility.
For decades, she’s thanked Father Blakeslee
in her mind, thanked him for the gift of the book,
but more, for the gift of a path, the gift of potential—
the kindness a small act he likely forgot,
never knowing how it changed her life.
But never until today
did she think to thank all the others
who delivered cummings to her hands—
thank the librarians, of course, who curated it,
and thank whoever made the clear plastic sleeve
so the book would not be ruined in the rain,
and thank the woman who perhaps found the book
in the park and took it back to its home.
Yes, bless all who return things to where they belong,
bless all who help things find their “right” place,
things such as this treasured old book of 73 poems on my desk,
which smells of old paper and gratitude,
its pages open even now to a poem
about how it is we live in a magic world.

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            —for Augusta Kantra
I remember that day when Augusta and I
stood beneath the satsuma tree at her front gate
and pulled dozens of bright orange spheres
from the branches, filled a basket to brimming,
and still the tree was weighted with fruit.
I remember how easily the leather skin peeled away,
the way I always wish an orange might peel.
I remember the juicy sweet flesh—sweeter
than most citrus. I remember it was seedless,
a surprise generosity. And the colder it is,
the sweeter the satsuma will grow.
But most of all, I remember Augusta—
her love-ripened smile, her sunny chatter,
her contagious gratitude
for the tree, the fruit, the scent of soft rain, the day.
I remember how she thrilled to share with me
something I’d never known before,
how she handed me my first satsuma—
her palm upright, extended,
and in it a small proof of abundant goodness
just waiting to be opened.

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making you a bouquet

of morning light—

leaving it at your doorstep

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Tonight, I want to break into the fortune cookie factory

armed with millions of tiny rectangular papers

that I’d surreptitiously slip into the thin folded wafers.

You will say five nice things in the next hour, says one.

And, You’ll bake something nice for your neighbor.

Every fortune will predict a generosity of spirit.

A grudge you’ve been gripping will disappear.

Gratitude for the smallest things will flood you.

And on the back, it will acknowledge that to make

any number lucky, you’ll simply write a check

using that number to a local charity—

the more zeroes you add to the number,

the luckier that number will be.

Or, perhaps a better idea:

fill each cookie with a blank slip of paper—

some small scrap of potential that invites every person

to write their own fortune, lets them feel

like the author of their own destiny. In fact, here.

Here’s a pen. And a very small white page.

You don’t even need the cookie.

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In the box from eBay,

a green crystal elephant

and not one clue

as to who might have sent it.


There are days

when I am amazed

by the goodness of people,

how we are marked by generosity


There are days

when I whisper thank you,

though I don’t know to whom,

and I revel in the mystery.




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Ruth Dreams Me Safe




She’s in a thrift store in her dream,

and though her daughter

suggests it’s too big,

Ruth buys me a men’s suit coat,

something to keep me warm.

Later she tells me the real reason

she bought it: she knows

I need the arms around me.

Into one of the pockets,

she slips a check for $100,

then asks her daughter

to give it to me.


I find the coat in a message

Ruth sends me on Facebook,

where the pixels warm me

more than any wool, more

than any fleece, any down.

How easy it is to be generous,

sharing our dreams, our thoughts,

our hope. All night I stick my hands

in the coat pockets. They are deep,

warm, full of surprises.

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