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Posts Tagged ‘generosity’

 

 

 

Consider the generosity of the chair,

sitting there with its arms open, its back straight,

its seat ever ready to hold you.

 

Consider how it was made to support you—

how its legs take all your weight.

Perhaps it is beautiful, artful, handsome.

 

Perhaps it exists for function alone.

When is the last time you knew yourself

as that useful? When is the last time

 

you gave yourself so completely to another,

said to them, Sit, please. As long as you wish.

I am here for you. I am here.

 

 

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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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When you arrive at a home in Finland,
they will ask you to leave your shoes at the door.
They will usher you in where the table is set
with seven kinds of baked goods—berry pastries
and un-iced pound cake, four kinds of cookies,
and braided sweet bread with cardamom. They will ask you
to sit, and regardless what time of day it is,
they will pour you coffee, dark and rich.

With the first cup of coffee, you eat the sweet bread.
With the second cup, you eat cake.
With the third cup of coffee, you eat the pastry.
With the fourth, you try everything else.
It is polite to try everything. It is polite
to go back for more.
The ritual might take all day.

I should like to serve you poems this way,
with your feet bare and with nowhere else to go.
We could nibble the poems together,
feeding some deeper hunger that so seldom
is satisfied, the kind of hunger that cannot
be sated alone. Like the Finns, we would hold
lumps of sugar between our teeth when drinking in
what is dark and bitter. But drink it in we would,

cup after cup. There is so much to be read
between the lines, and we would let
all the unspokens join us at the table.
Not everything must be said. The midnight sun
would not set, and we would go
for a walk, perhaps pick gooseberries,
then rest a while, before
setting the table again.

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Prodigal

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
blessed
with your giving.

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Teacher

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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