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Posts Tagged ‘life’

Forecast

Nobody keeps any of what he has, and life is only a borrowing of bones.

          

  —Pablo Neruda, “October Fullness,” trans. Alistair Reid

And if we can keep nothing of what we have

then let us love more right now. Naked as sunlight

and unapologetic as ripe apples. Let’s invent

new compassions and conjure new kindnesses

out of what seems to be dust.

And if life is only a borrowing of bones,

then let us use them well while we may.

Just today I ran through the corn maze

and marveled at the joy of being lost.

Bless these borrowed femurs and spines.

Bless these borrowed skulls.

And let us love more right now.

Though the forecast is for loss.

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Learning

Today the shadows

teach me to love

what is dim,

the sweet respite

of obscurity

when the sun

is too much

and a tree

yields its shape

so that I might slip

my clumsy heat

out of the bounds

of the vertical world

and find instead

a cool dark pool

on the ground,

as if I’m a boat

that has discovered

at last

a slim calm eddy

in which I might rest.

This is perhaps

the way we start

to meet our deaths—

sliding into the relief

of these dark, quiet

channels.

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Tonight, life wears me like

an old pair of shoes. The kind

it can slip its feet into

without untying the laces.

The kind of shoes a mother

would probably throw out

thinking of the act as a favor.

Life is tired, tonight,

of running. Doesn’t want

to dress to impress. It just

wants to know that it goes on,

especially tonight when

events seem to point

to the contrary. And so

though I am down at the heel

and shabby, life slips into me

as if life depended on it.

And we walk in the moonlight,

cry. And howl. Then take another step.

And then another.

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turnovers

 

 

My own fault for not reading all the directions

on how to make puff pastry from scratch—

how after the shaggy dough phase, you shape

and then chill. And then roll and fold and roll

and shape the dough. And chill. And then roll

and fold and roll and fold. And chill. Then roll

and slice. And chill. And fill. And chill. So often,

mid project, I find myself thinking I would never

have started this project had I known

how long it would take. Flour on my pants,

on the floor, on the table.

 

Six hours later, nearly midnight, my daughter

and I baste the chilled triangles with water,

sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar,

then put them in the oven at last. We are tired,

but the house fills with the sweet scent

of baking apple, the home-rich scent of crust.

 

What is life, but a big project we are in the middle of?

A project I’m in no hurry to finish.

In fact, these days are like puff pastry dough,

guiding me to take it slow, slower, to rest

between steps. I haven’t read all the directions.

For now I am laughing. It’s so much more

than I thought I was in for. But I’m here,

hands ready. I’m willing to work, to clean up the mess.

 

 

  • photo by Finn Trommer

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When pregnant, it was clear

I was along for the ride with a miracle.

Sure, I could eat organic broccoli,

walk and eschew caffeine,

but that was just taking care

of the vessel. Life itself

was doing the real work.

 

Imagine my surprise today

to realize I’m still along for the ride.

How did I ever kid myself

that I was in charge?

And oh, the bliss today

to notice anew these hands,

these eyes, these feet!

What joy to see them again

as the miracle they are,

to offer them in service to life.

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She wants to go see the bluebonnets, she says.

This is after she tells me they’ve said she has three months to live.

And I want to find her vast fields of bluebonnets,

acres and acres of white-tipped blue bloom.

And I want to send her more springs to see them in,

more days to live one day at a time. I want to remove

the pain in her belly, the pain that aggressively grows.

I want to make deals with the universe. Want to say no

to the way things are. I want to tell death to wait.

I want to tell life to find a way. I want to hug her

until she believes she’s beloved. I want to give her

the pen that will write every brave thing

that she’s been unable to say. There are days

when we feel how uncompromising it is, the truth.

How human we are. There are days when the bluebonnets

stretch as far as the eye can see. There are days

we know nothing is more important than going to see them,

a billion blue petals all nodding in the wind, teaching us to say yes.

 

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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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The Diagnosis

 

 

 

Well, he said, I’ve seen it before.

You have all the symptoms.

Fairly common, actually.

You have life. It’s terminal.

I will give you, oh, about

forty years to live. Some people

really pull through, make the most

out of what they have left.

 

As he walked away, I listened

to his footsteps until all I could hear

was the sound of my own breathing.

God, it was beautiful, a tide, a river.

And that plant in the corner, have you

ever seen anything so delicate, so green?

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After Reading about the Death

 

 

 

It is the work of the living

to grieve the dead. It is our work

to wonder how else the story

could have gone. It is our work

to weep and worry, and it is

our work to heal. The clouds

hide the moon, hide the sun, sometimes

for days. We don’t believe

it will be forever. Some part of us

knows not only hope, but patience.

It is the work of the living

to love even deeper

in the face of death, to know ourselves

as flowers on the pathway,

easily crushed. The world crushes.

Some stems spring back,

some never rise again.

We know we must be resilient,

but resilience has wings

and sometimes flies away.

It is the work of the living

to, against all odds, grow wings.

It is our work to live—

and work it sometimes is.

It is our work to show up again

and again and again, genies

who refuse to go back in the bottle,

lovers who ever insist on love,

stems that feel sunlight and,

though we can’t yet move,

let it encourage our being.

 

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One at the Memorial

 

 

 

between the tears,

a curve ball of joy—

life takes a victory lap

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