Posts Tagged ‘giving’




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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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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