Posts Tagged ‘giving’

The smallest change in perspective can transform a life.
            —Oprah Winfrey
They return arm in arm,
linked by elbows and laughter,
linked by memories of women weaving
and warm fresh tortillas and the girl
who begged them to bring her home with them.
They are the same girls who left,
only more spacious, filled with vast lake
and tropical rain and the generosity
of the people who live with little.
They are more citizens of the world, now,
having sat on the earth and around tables
with children and elders so different, so the same.
Having left in service, they return the richer—
oh sweet paradox,
how in giving of themselves they are beautifully changed.

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Sleep, of course. Long,

uninterrupted hours of sleep.

For a week. For a month.

For a year. You’d just put your head

on the pillow, and sleep

would come meet you

like a devoted friend, or like

a dog that will come whenever you call,

and snuggle with you all night.


And then, when you woke,

I would give you the certainty

that life is worth waking for,

that you are beloved,

that everything you do

makes a difference, and

by everything, I mean everything.



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I watched it happen, the confrontation.

The one who was hurt and the one

with no inkling that harm had been done,

and my heart ached for both of them—

for all of us really—all of us fragile, all of us

witless, all of us longing to love, to be loved

for being ourselves.


Outside the window, the leaves

were brilliantly dying, burning auburn,

vermillion, a heart swelling show

of what it is we’ve come here to do—

to give our all and give some more,

to do it unreservedly.


It’s all a series of repetition, design—

the leaves, the fall, the hurt, the blame,

the confusion, the reconciliation.

It’s all a matter of pattern and letting

go, letting go of whatever we think we know

about how to give.


What I’m trying to say is if I have hurt you,

I’m sorry. I don’t understand my own thorns.

I think I am singing and it comes out crooked.

I think I’m supporting and it comes out cage.

There are so many mistakes in my blood,

all of them believing they’re butterflies.


My friend tells me the leaves in fall

are returning to their true colors—

how the necessary chlorophyll disguises

what’s really inside.


What I’m trying to say is look at the leaves

outside the window, see how vibrant they are?

I am trying to love like that,

every day, the colors more true.

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praise the larkspur

grown so tall, so heavy with bloom

it breaks at its base,

but oh, how it grew,

it grew

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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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