Posts Tagged ‘letter’

Seeking Purpose



The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself.  It is not in your environment; it is not in luck or chance, or the help of others; it is in yourself alone.  

—Orison Swett Marden



There were no letters tucked in the trees today,

no handwritten notes tied with red string.

No epistles, no missives, no communiques.


Some days, a woman wishes the world

would be more direct, would just tell her

her purpose, would spell it out in a language she knows.


Include sketches, clear directives. Write her name

on the envelopes so there can be no mistake.

Leave the letters in a place she will find them.


But no. Today, the only message in the trees

is snow. She tries to make meaning of it.

Laughs at the impulse. Reminds herself, Snow is snow.


Isn’t it like her to look for meaning?

Next thing you know, she’ll be looking

for a message in the clouds. In rivers. In books.

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Here, into this letter I will slip you
the pucker of this morning’s grapefruit—
the way that the ruby flesh
comes alive on the tongue
and makes the whole room impossibly shine.
And here, tucked inside each serif
is the riot of birdsong I heard
strung along the alley, a delirious
garland of tune. I want to serve
you the scent of the rye as it
turns from flour into bread,
and the sound of the San Miguel River
as it gurgles low in its icy bed.
And here, here is the creamy sweep of the Milky Way
harvested from last night’s clear, clear
sky to fold into your morning thoughts. And here
the stubbornness of mint
that soon will leap from the frosted ground,
and here, the book that will always open
to your favorite page.
The rosy glow on the snow dreamed peaks,
and the green in the spruce that never leaves
and the finish line at the end of the race.
These are impossible things, of course,
to give you, but here is the pink of the wild
rose that blooms at the edge of the desert,
and here is the rich bitterness of espresso
and here are my hands, my open palms,
my fingers tracing the slow of your back.

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reading again
that yellowing letter
you never sent me

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winter haiku

between waves of snow
your letter brings carpets of
pink camellia

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nothing holds back
the river forever—
these hands still trying

same cold, same dawn,
same landscape—even that hill
seems tired of standing


again I write
in my head the letter, again
I rip it up


and then the day came
when I sat in the lupine
instead of climbing


morning after
the storm each glittering limb
the most lovely

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Dear Death,

I know you’ve been coming around a lot lately.
Must be so much to do. I’m sorry I didn’t say hi
when I passed you on Columbia Avenue last week.
I felt busy, too. Actually, when I saw you,
I crossed the street, afraid you’d want to talk—
I had so much to do that day—and I didn’t
want to be late to pick up the kids. You understand?
Nothing personal. Oh, yeah. I know I didn’t invite you
to the birthday party. Sorry. There were so many folks
coming already. Um, yeah, I saw you behind me
in the car today, so close on my bumper. What
was the deal? But it did make me realize,
looking out the windows at the willows beside the highway,
how very beautiful the frost—all glitter
and shine—and how seeing you there in the rearview
mirror my whole world seemed so very,
well, not mine.

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Dear Rumi,

Sometimes I think if the night
were clear enough and the wind
was still, I could see
through all these walls I’ve built
to protect myself—from what?—
and know how to bring them down.
And then I could be open. But tonight
the sky could not be more clear
and there’s no hint of wind
and I still feel in my heart
all the places still clenched and tight.
“Not open, dear, but opening,”
I imagine you might say, reminding me
that open is a verb, not some destination
where I might arrive—
some magical place with a beach and umbrella,
some anywhere I’ve dreamt up
that isn’t wherever I am.
I can laugh kindly at myself when I’m not crying,
or when I’m not trying too hard.
I try too hard. My friend Barbara wrote me
and told me so. My other friend,
Joan, advised me that I would be challenging
wherever I go. They both said it
with so much love that I let their words
wholly in.
The prediction tomorrow
is snow, Rumi, and I will perhaps
be so enthralled or busy with it
that I will be drawn utterly out of my thoughts
of open and opening and how.
But there I go again, planting myself
into the future as if it will be easier
to be present then than it is right now.
Right now, there’s a knocking
in the kitchen. I don’t know what it is.
A heater? The fridge?
And my own heart is knocking
against my chest like a neighbor
who is coming to borrow a cup of sugar
in the middle of the night.
I don’t know, Rumi, why I am writing to you,
except that it feels as if something
has started in my soul, something
I don’t understand. Something more
about forgetting than remembering.
And as you once said to your own teacher Shams,
“You make my raggedness silky.”
I turn to the yes I feel
when I read your words and know
that I know nothing. When I read you
it feels as if the angels that I don’t quite believe in
have come, is that them doing all that knocking?
and those walls I mentioned, well,
I can laugh at them, too, when the doors
I didn’t even know were there
begin by themselves to open.

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