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Posts Tagged ‘life’

 

 

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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I decided to take

the invitation seriously.

Nothing changed.

I made breakfast.

Went to work.

Walked.

Made a date

to speak with a friend.

Swore at the magpie

that dive bombed

my head. Ate popcorn

for lunch.

Made plans

for four months from now.

Took vitamins.

Drank green tea.

Watered the seeds

planted yesterday.

Talked to the seeds,

encouraged them to grow.

Read a book, stopped

at the penultimate chapter.

Some things are better

left unfinished.

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for Billy Miller, remembering events on January 4, 2012

 

 

When the man pulled my father

from the icy waters of Lake Michigan,

he did not know years later my step-daughter

would need someone to buy her a sweater

so she would feel nurtured, did not know

that my son would need someone

to make a mosaic with him so that he

could feel loved, did not know

that my daughter would need

someone to tell her that she

was beautiful. When the man

pulled my father out of the water—

my dad had been fishing alone—

that off-duty fireman couldn’t have known

that years later this very daughter

would sit beside her father and hold his hand

and weep at the simple gift

of being able to hold his hand.

The fireman was doing what he knew to do—

to rush to the person in need of help.

He didn’t think then of the other lives

blessed by the man. Did not think

of the other lives he blessed with his hands

when he chose to try, though the odds

of saving the man were low.

He knew only to reach.

Years later, my mother still sleeps

beside the man that was pulled

from the winter lake.

Give us hands that know to reach

for each other—stranger, neighbor,

friend. Give us hands that unthinkingly

choose to save the family

we’ve never met.

 

See the news story here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Make No Mistake

 

 

 

Everything is out to get you.

Still, the thrill of the ice

as your skates glide across it,

still the joy in swimming

even as the water deepens.

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One Example

 

 

 

the candle runs out—

knowing this, the wick

burns no less bright

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In the Garden

 

 

 

I apologize

as I squish

the green worm

that’s been feasting

on the basil leaf.

It does not change

the fact that the worm

is dead. And the basil

now will live.

 

Yesterday, my friend Carl

stopped me on the street

and wondered aloud

how we die

to the moment,

then greet the next.

He did not,

of course mean

a literal death.

 

The basil leaf

has a hole in it now

where the green worm

is not. I pick it

and eat it myself,

not out of spite,

perhaps

to feel how the worm

and I are not

after all

so different.

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