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Posts Tagged ‘heartache’

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Again today, the invitation

to fall in love with the world—

with the gray jay who flits

from empty branch to empty branch,

with the sharp scent of rabbit brush,

with the warm spring wind

and the dark buds on the crabapple

still tight with future bloom.

 

Some days, though the world offers itself,

it’s not so easy to fall in love—

days when heartache twists in the chest

and turns in us like a screw,

leaves us raw and sensitive, until,

too tender to hear any more bad news,

we shutter our hearts, we close our ears.

 

But if we’re lucky, an inner voice

sends us outside into the day,

and though it is gray, the world does

what the world does—

holds us despite our heartache,

holds us the same way it holds

the stubby pink cactus, all prickly and clenched,

the same way it holds last year’s thistles,

all brittle and flat and gray,

the same way it holds the dank scent of river

and the moldering scent of last year’s leaves,

holds us exactly as we are

until we are ready to fall in love again.

 

 

 

 

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Allspice. Basil. Bay. Caraway. There were mornings

my boy and I spent on the floor pulling herbs and spices

from the drawer. We’d open the jars and close our eyes

and gently sniff. Cardamom. Cilantro. Cinnamon. Dill.

I took out the cayenne and red pepper flakes

and put them up high on an uppermost shelf.

Some agonies are easy to prevent.

We focused on Fennel. Fenugreek. Mint.

 

Today, he comes home having breathed in deeply

the scent of heartbreak, a jar I would have hidden if I could,

but all of us know it eventually, feel the burn, the inner sear.

Beyond safety, thyme, turmeric, there is fire, and once inhaled,

it hurts everywhere. Eventually we respect the heat as a gift.

Eventually the heart learns to walk through it.

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goldfinch stealing

into the thorn bush—

oh heart, bless you

for being willing, please

don’t follow him in

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After a Difficult Day

Because my heart is aching,

I clean the stove. It’s covered

in dark brown stains, stains

so burned on they seem

to be part of the stainless steel.

Because I am practical, I wear

plastic gloves while I scour.

I know that the cleaner

would ripple my fingers and dry

my skin for days. And because

I would rather not cry right now,

I turn on my music and play

Joni Mitchell as loud as the speakers

will play. She always knows

just what to say. There are some

places now where the stovetop gleams

so silver it looks nearly new. There

are some stains I know, that no matter

how many hours I scrub,

they will never leave.

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The heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking.
Stanley Kunitz, “Testing Tree”

Like any other muscle,
the heart, when injured,
will clench, and will stay that way

for a long, long time, most likely
long past the time of usefulness.
But when it relaxes again,

perhaps because it has been touched
in just the right way, or perhaps
just because it is exhausted

with its own clenching, well then
it is like when the sun hits the forest
in late morning and releases the scent

of pine and greening leaves.
And it is like when you walk past a spring
and a dozen blue butterflies all brush

you with their wings, a feeling so impossibly
soft and tender that you cannot help
but let the heart stay open, though you know

it will be wounded again. It is not
in the end the heart itself that matters.
It is the practice of releasing again, again.

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It is not so much
what you do to heal, she said,
but that you stop doing
the things that hurt.

The PT speaks of
my hamstring, but I
think about my aching friend,
and wonder if the heart

responds like any other muscle.
Perhaps if we could
stop from doing what
we know makes the pain

increase, like reaching
toward impossible things,
it would be easier to heal.
We are, perhaps,

slow learners. We
are, perhaps, like the children
who say of a scrape, It only hurts
when I touch it, and then

touch it all day to be sure
it still hurts.
The PT goes on to say
she does not mean

I should do nothing.
You can find other things
that don’t hurt to do.
She calls it active rest.

There are many things
a woman can do without
using her left hamstring.
Read. Laugh. Knit. Sing.

Stand on her right leg.
Kiss. Still the longing
to do what hurts—to run—
as if it’s the only thing.

Just as my friend with the pull in her heart
wants to reach and reach again, as if
it might hurt less, not more,
if she keeps practicing.

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