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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

Small Gratitudes

 

 

 

It was one of those days when the alarm

didn’t go off, and we woke anyway

to a world covered in snow, and

 

by noon the sky was blue. And I drove

right through the construction zone

without being stopped by a flagger.

 

The tomato for breakfast was ripe

and sharp and sweet. And the tea

was strong and black. The radio

 

played only songs I wanted to sing.

My car started. I had no flat tires.

I never felt sick. Never fell. More blessings,

 

it turns out, than a woman can count, though

I try to count them all. And the more

I remember—a good friend called, all

 

ten fingers are intact, my eyes still

see across the room—yes,

the more blessings I consider, the more

 

my joy grows until I am dumbfounded,

gobsmacked by gratitude that’s exactly

the size of the known universe, amazed by

 

how perfectly it fits—as if I were made for this—

right inside my skin.

 

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Aphids are born pregnant.

I don’t want to believe it,

but it makes sense, considering

what’s happening in my kale.

And Google confirms it.

They are born pregnant.

And their embryos are also

pregnant. Three generations

of garden cripplers in each tiny

soft-bodied bug.

No matter how much I hate

and curse them, I have to admire

such insistence, such dedication

to survival.

 

It is like gratitude,

I think. Sometimes, it seems

as if there’s not much to be grateful for,

but if I can think of one blessing,

then often, buried in its belly

is another blessing,

and that gives birth to another.

Soon there’s a teeming colony

of gratitudes. And although

the news might try to squish them

or wash them away,

they persist.

 

Yes, all those tiny feasting gratitudes,

how easily they find a way

to thrive. How impressive

their tenacity, their drive.

 

 

 

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Budding

 

            (with thanks to Donnalee for the peony buds)

 

 

Sitting with the peony

whatever is red in me reddens

and whatever in me is fist

loosens its grip

and whatever was sorrow

finds no mirror

and whatever is grateful

becomes fragrant

and I don’t even think

to remember

it won’t last forever,

all I know is

inside,

sweet nectar.

 

 

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Once I would say “table,” and mean

“table.” Once, I would say

“broccoli” and mean “broccoli.”

I would say “stone” and mean

“stone.” I really did believe

that things were separate.

And nameable. Now,

every word that comes

out of my mouth, no matter

how many syllables, no matter

the tone of voice, no matter

my intention, I’ve come to understand

that every word

is really just a translation

for thank you,

thank you for this moment.

And every silence between the words,

regardless how brief,

is really just the sound

of one hand in gratitude clapping.

 

 

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Into this poem

I tucked a thousand

butterflies so when

you read it, they

flutter out—bright winged

and brilliant, each

a reminder of the

thousand gifts

you’ve given—

and also, though

it’s not easy to hide it

inside Times New Roman,

there’s a big brown bull,

stubborn and formidable.

He doesn’t care

about all those pretty bugs,

he just wants to get across

the message,

What you do matters.

If you doubt it,

just look at those nostrils,

just look at those horns.

 

 

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Sometimes gratitude rises in us

like snowmelt—as if some great cold

has met with stubborn warmth

and now the whole world

roars with the transformation.

 

And sometimes gratitude

touches us more like moonlight,

we can’t truly feel it, but we know

it is there, our being

no longer intimidated by the dark.

 

 

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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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I fell in love, today, with the black

and blue marker stains on the table

made by the two-year-old boy—

he colored in the circles he’d drawn

with so much enthusiasm that the ink

seeped through the paper

and into the lemon cream paint on the table

where no amount of scrubbing could remove it.

 

It wasn’t so much the stain though, no,

and it wasn’t the color. What I fell in love with

was the way his mother didn’t see

that the table was ruined. She saw

that he did such a fine, precise job,

that he took so much pleasure in the coloring.

And when I apologized for bringing markers

that didn’t easily wash, she looked at me

with so much surrender and said,

“On a day like today,

who could worry about a table?”

 

It was yesterday they found the dog

waiting beside the car.

It was this morning the skier’s body was found

in a massive snow slide.

It was all day, through the stupor of loss,

I fell in love with the shape of empty branches,

the scent of black tea, the sound

of my son’s voice, fell in love

with the grace in the way my friend shrugged

when she saw the table, the way she hugged

her son. She offered me chocolate from London.

We ate the squares slowly. All day the gray edge

of grief made every little thing

more precious, more sweet.

 

 

 

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for Sherry Richert Belul

 

 

With a LOVE stamp, the woman I’ve never met

mailed me five dollars, “to be a reminder

that abundance can come unexpectedly,”

 

she wrote, and sitting with her letter in my lap,

I thought of last night’s snow—

five white inches that fell after midnight

 

and softened the whole hard world.

And I thought of the orchid on my mantle

that sprouted a new stem of purple buds

 

even as the other stem continued to bloom.

And I thought of my office mate bringing in

nine tins of exotic teas to share. And my daughter

 

sending me a text to say she loved me “soooo much.”

And I thought of a woman in a town a thousand

miles away, a woman I have never met,

 

who thought, “I think I’ll send five dollars

to someone who brought abundance into my life.”

How simple it is to manifest unforeseen joy.

 

How clear the invitation to extend gratitude,

to spread good will, to remind each other

how the world will offer itself, will open

 

and open and open, how we, ourselves,

are the agents of the world.

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stepping into your heart

surprised to find a large empty chair

with my name on it—

in the dust, I write thank you,

then curl in

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