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Posts Tagged ‘healing’

Eventually

 

with thanks to JT

 

 

Start in the dirt,

said the photographer,

then elevate from there.

And though I was thinking

of poems, and though

he was speaking of images,

I immediately leapt to healing.

 

Just today I heard of a girl

who, on Christmas morning,

learned her stomach ache was cancer.

I called her mother

to console her, though

I was the one near tears.

 

Start in the dirt.

Ammons, my hero, once

looked to the dirt

in search of something

lowly, but all he could find

was magnificence. Within

a stanza, he launched

from ticks to galaxies.

 

Sometimes in the dirt

all I see is dirt.

 

I held back the tears until

after we hung up the phone,

then wept. I wanted to find

some shred of magnificence

in her story, but it is, perhaps,

too soon. No magnificence. I suppose

that’s the invitation to stay in the dirt,

stay there until I know, really know,

there is nothing lowly. Not

the lichen. Not the slug. Not the ant.

Not mutating cells.

 

Hafiz, my hero, once wrote

that everything, everything

is holy. Sometimes I want

to argue with him.

 

Start in the dirt. Yes.

Perhaps I will be here a while.

I have some practicing to do.

It may be some time

before I elevate.

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Wish

 

for my father

 

 

And when at last

the healing comes,

 

may it come like rain,

like rain after a long drought,

 

so soft that at first

you won’t be sure

 

it is raining,

but the fragrance

 

will overcome you,

green and wet,

 

and the world

will look dewy and

 

you’ll feel it in your lungs.

Yes, may the healing

 

arrive in a way that

astounds you,

 

as today when the rain turned

long and steady,

 

the kind that touches

and changes everything,

 

changes things so completely

you almost can’t remember

 

what it was like before,

yes, may healing come like this

 

so that everywhere you look,

all you see is promise.

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the only thing

that matters

is the wound—

from a dark nest

comes gold

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with thanks to Artful for the fabulous starts

 

 

Last year’s potatoes—

small red fists

with stubby white shoots—

they have something

to teach the heart about

unclenching,

about how to find something of value

in their own darkness

something that knows how to reach

toward the light,

something that when faced

with darkness again

will reach even farther

until they become

astonishingly prolific, alive.

 

 

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her daughter has a tumor behind her knee.

Already it’s grown into the bone.

 

Very aggressive, the doctor says,

and though he names the diagnosis,

 

he tells my friend not to Google it.

Sometimes what we know

 

creates more footholds for fear. There’ll be surgery,

the doctor says, and chemo.

 

I want to give her a brush tonight, nothing special,

one she could pull through her own long hair

 

and then through her daughter’s dark curls, as well.

How commonplace to brush and comb,

 

to unsnarl the tangles and make one’s hair

smooth again. I want to give her the terrible gift

 

of the habitual life—the tedious days in which we

brush and wash and dress and sleep and work

 

and laugh and shit and yell and fuss and forget

how fragile we are, forget how temporary

 

these bodies can be, forget how bloody lucky

we are every minute to be alive.

 

 

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One Eventually

 

 

those thorns in my pocket

surprised to find I have rubbed them

dull, smooth

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still this longing

to bring a golden cup

and hold it

to your sweet

parched lips

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Doctors, said the professor

to the room of fresh pre-meds,

know this:

Eighty percent of the people

you treat will get better

even if you do nothing.

Ten percent will heal because

of what you do. And ten percent

will get worse because of what you do.

Let’s begin.

Tonight, as my daughter’s skin

blooms increasingly red—

a rash staining her trunk,

her face, her limbs—I consider

what the professor said.

She is long past the age

where I can heal things

with a kiss. Still, I kiss her,

knowing this to be the best medicine

eighty percent of the time.

I give her a dose of jokes,

and prescribe another chapter

of The Silver Chair. We read

as the red grows angrier.

She laughs when I tell her

at least she didn’t break her arm

or lose all of her hair.

I hate how helpless I feel.

Though I did not enter

the rooms of dissection

nor memorize tomes

of bones and diseases and cures,

I still have the longing

to heal, to remove the pain, to nurse.

If she is afraid, she does not show it.

I disguise my fear. I give her

another kiss. It won’t, at least,

make anything worse.

*with thanks to Dr. John Belka for the story that opens this poem.

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In the Midst of the Wreckage

Make in my heart a concert hall

where a single violin

plays on the vacant stage

reminding me in a minor key,

that one true song

touches every broken,

twisted, rotted thing

invites us to lean deeper into,

no, to fall completely

into the beauty

we stopped believing in.

Let me not just hear the song,

let me tear down the heart’s walls

so everyone can hear.

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You never really recover.

That’s what the woman told me

her friend had said.

We were talking about

eating disorders.

There’s no way to make

that line sound poetic.

Her friend ran a program

at a hospital for other women

with eating disorders.

Her friend knew the subject personally.

I remember, I told the woman,

when I believed the same thing.

Until one day, it happened.

I just didn’t know

it was possible because

for so many, many years

it hadn’t happened to me,

though I tried, I tried.

Whenever it happened,

there were no fireworks,

no symphonies, no ecstatic dance,

no revelations written in clouds.

No rhapsody, no reveille, no

parade, no streams of light.

It happened so quietly I didn’t notice—

not for days, weeks, perhaps months.

Now I lean in when I hear myself say never.

What a fine time to get very curious.

What a fine time to get very quiet,

even quieter than that.

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