Posts Tagged ‘generosity’

            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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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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