Posts Tagged ‘giving’

And Again




And what if I never get it right,

this loving, this giving of the self

to the other? And what if I die

before learning how to offer

my everything? What if, though

I say I want this generous,

indefatigable love, what if

I forever find a way to hold

some corner back? I don’t want

to find out the answer

to that. I want to be the sun

that gives and gives until it burns out,

the sea that kisses the shore

and only moves away so that

it might rush up to kiss it again.

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I want to give you words,

as if they might do what

the body can’t do—


as if with verb I could

meet the place in you

that most wants to be touched,


as if with noun I could

know the parts of you

that most want to be known.


I want to give you

the most faithful adjective,

the one that cradles you


before you even realize

that you need to be held—

once I heard a song


written by a man

for another man, a song

that swelled, then took


two steps back,

then swelled again, then

took two steps back


before finally rising

to an unsteady ledge

and my heart


beat outside of my body

and my eyes wept

with tears that were mine and not mine,


and I want to give you words

that will find every ache in you

that longs to be soothed,


words that will seek out

each lonely place, that will find

every branch of you—


not like a wind

that is here and gone, no, more like

the bark that gives everything


to protect you,

the bark that grows as you grow

and takes its shape from you.



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Perhaps not as many days of sun

as they might have wanted,

perhaps not as much warmth,

perhaps not as much rain—

rain that soaks in like a lover’s

lingering glance, and still

beside the trail in late fall

they are everywhere,

the seeds of next year’s flowers

giving their everything to the world.

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It is not only that the desert longs for water.
Of course the water longs for desert, too.
Any raindrop can fall and get lost in an ocean,
but to fall where it’s parched, where just
the smallest amount of wet can launch a hundred
hundred blooms, can set ten thousand thousand
seeds into frothy flight, oh. Now that is something
worth falling for. No imaginary desert. The real thing,
all prickle and spine and thorn and barb.
And the petals after. The heat can spend months
holding off just the briefest sprinkle. But then
no one said it was going to be easy, this going
where we’re needed most. Patience is the marriage
of sweetness and sting. To bring life one must also be alive.

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If you’d let me, I would lift you up
so you could touch the moon.
But that is a fairytale thing to say,
and you’re so practical.
I’d move a mountain for you,
though you’d laugh and insist,
“Please don’t bother, the mountain’s fine
exactly the way it is.” I’d plant you a field
of Mariposa lilies or a garden of magnolia blooms,
but you would say, “Don’t trouble yourself.
All I want is you.” But what about a meteor
shower to light up the darksome nights?
Or a macaw to brighten up the room?
Or a Martian might be nice? “A Martian?”
you’d say? “Oh come on. That’s not even
real.” So I’d offer to take you fishing
for marlin. Or maybe for a blue gill? And you
would say, “I told you already, all I want is you.”
But I’d still try to offer you something—
something sweet like a marshmallow?
Something tasty like wild mushrooms?
Something humble like marigolds?
Something weird like a marmot with a mustache?
and you’d say, “Don’t you know
you’re fine just as you are. Bring me
you with your empty hands.”
Why do I find it so daunting
to come to you just as I am?

*an M poem for Lian Canty’s Alphabet Menagerie

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For Christmas, I want to buy you the softest green
shirt, green the color of Wisconsin in springtime,
so green we could almost fall into the color
and find ourselves running once more to the lake,
cane poles in hand, to see if the fish are biting.
Or we might find ourselves in the dark green woods
behind the neighbor’s house where we used to dig
in the old junk yard for shards of blue and white porcelain.

But green is my favorite color, not yours. And those days
of running down the great grassy hill are gone, are gone
and faded. You like blue. Forgive me, brother, for buying
you again for Christmas another green shirt. Oh hush,
can you hear them, the cicadas, trilling through the leaves
of the old willow tree, serenading the warm summer night?

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a q-poem for Lian Canty’s alphabet menagerie

It was a funny little man
I met on the street, with the sparklingest
look in his eye.
He said, I have some things
right here in my bag that I think you might
just like to buy.

Now I had a quarter,
shiny as a quasar, and a new dollar
crisp and clean,
and I said to the man,
show me what you have
that I might give to a queen.

First he pulled out a quill.
For just one dollar bill,
he said, and I declined.
Then he pulled out a quail
with a curving crest—
I said, Not what I had in mind.

Not fancy enough for the queen?
he said, and he pulled out
a red and green quetzal.
That’s lovely! I cried,
but please, no more birds.
He twisted his arms like a pretzel.

Okay, he said, you are not
easy to please. How about
some Queen Anne’s Lace?
Though the blossom was fair,
it smelled terrible
and I made a sour face.

How about a queen bee
to make her honey
whenever she wants something sweet?
How does that work?
I asked the man,
he said, Watch her carefully.

Or would she perhaps like
quartz crystals—
how many would she need?
Or maybe a book
of clever quotes—
do you know what she likes to read?

My dear man, I said,
that’s it! You have shown me
the best way to make an impression—
not with something I’ve bought
but with curiousness.
I shall bring the queen a question.

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For You

I want to give to you
the way the shovel does—
how it is useful and fits
in your hand as if
it were made to fit
in your hand. How
it makes the day’s work
easier. I want
to give to you the way
the soap does, how it
gives itself up
at your touch.
I want to give
to you the way
the moon gives,
taking no credit
for any light.
I want to give to you
the way the field gives,
greening and deepening
and framing the day
until it is too dark
to see.

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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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I give you bread.
You no longer eat wheat.
You give me a shirt.
There’s a small grease stain.
We both laugh. Neither
of us bothered to wrap.
Tonight I wear the shirt
and feel pretty.
Tonight you eat the bread
and it tastes like buttered love.
I keep thinking of how
we walked today,
the snow so deep, the air
so warm, the sky as clear,
as beautiful as your face
when all the masks come off.

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