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Posts Tagged ‘life’




And here is the miracle—
to find in grief not only sorrow
but a ravenous gratefulness for life,
to find in loss not only emptiness
but an unimaginable abundance.
It doesn’t happen in a day,
no, not even in a year,
but who said miracles
need be instantaneous.

Today I skied through a veil of trees
and forgot for a moment
anything but trees, but skis, but lungs.
I want to tell you in that moment,
there was no one to remember,
there was no one to look ahead,
there was no one except the human
who knew to place the next ski in front
of the other, knew to trust
the ragged saw of her breath,
knew that life is only as beautiful
as death.

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December 17, 2022




Mom makes the chocolates
while I chop nuts and make dough—
we listen to carols and sing along
as we have since before I remember.
The kitchen smells of mint and sugar
and I try to press the memory
between the pages of the day.
Perhaps it is a blessing
to know how fragile it is, this life.
I let myself fall all the way into the moment,
the sun long gone, but the house
still pulsing with love, still warm.

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The Growing



Vivian, the garden is ready now for winter.
Today was the day to pull everything out—
the remaining carrots, a few beets, the dried stalks
of sunflowers with their seed heads already emptied
into the soil. Next year there will be many volunteers.

I was surprised how many plants still had life.
The calendula, for instance, had dozens of new green leaves
flourishing around their bases, despite the frost and snow.
The snapdragons, too, had several inches of new growth,
though winter is near, though their flowers are dead.

What an astonishment, how life insists on itself.
Today I read an essay that said, The purpose of life is life.
Something thrilled in me when I read it,
though how to reconcile these words with the choice
your brother made to give up this life?

There are moments when I watch you find pleasure
in some simple act—stapling fabric to a box to make a costume.
Drawing on your hand. Snuggling the cat.
Life seems to burgeon around all the places inside you
that died when your brother died.

It’s a choice you make, I know.
The garden will be full of surprises next year.
I marvel at what grows.

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At Last




After a week, at last the peaches
on the counter smell like peaches,
their sweet summer scent reaching
across the room to where I sit
trying to balance numbers.
The scent is like a flirty lover
who won’t take no for answer,
who trails fingertips down my cheek
and neck and lightly tugs at my collar,
then tilts my head back
to whisper into my ear,
Isn’t there something you’d rather
be doing, my dear?
And damn if I’m not distracted
and hungry and all I want
is to sink my teeth into peach
and that’s what I do.
So much of life feels like letting go,
but tonight life says,
Pick me up, sweetheart. Take me in.
And the gold sticky juice
runs all over those numbers.
I lick my fingers clean.

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A bookmark is a kind of promise.
You can go back, it says,
I will mark this place
where you have been,
this place where you
will want to return.

I want a bookmark
for every moment of your life.
Want to mark, for instance,  
the day when we walked the streets
and listened to music.
The day when you held your sister
as she cried. The countless nights
when I sat at your bed and sang.
Days picking cherries.
Hours swimming the river.
Lighting fireworks year after year.

I notice what a bookmark is not.
Not eraser. Not pen.
Not a chance to change the story
or to live it again.
It simply invites us to resee
how not one bit of life is ordinary,
invites us to look back and marvel
at the treasure of each moment,
even as the pages keep turning.

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Revelation




After skate skiing on groomed track for months,
following only the preset path, today
I wake early enough to ski on the hardened crust
of spring morning snow. Suddenly,
the whole valley is a playground. And
it’s freedom. Freedom to move in any
direction. Freedom to loop or climb or follow
the river. Freedom that seeps into breath, into smile,
into my understanding of what it means to be alive.
And the whole time I skate and pole
and propel myself over snow
I hear an inner refrain from Romans:
And death shall have no dominion.
Not a still small voice, but a resonant boom.
And I, so alive in this sweet slip of time,
know that though my son has died
and my father has died, here I am,
carrying their love, and alive. Alive!
Alive through the winter.
Alive though I grieve. Alive. Alive as I skate
through willows and aspen and wide open white.
Lungs burning, legs striding, heart beating
hard in my chest. I know myself as breath
and return to the wholeness that never left.
Skating across the frozen world, the sparkling crust,
I live into this life that so wants to be lived,
this life that asks everything, everything of us.

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On a Clear Day


The way the field holds
   the shadow of the cottonwood,
      this is how life holds me.
 
Holds me, no matter my shape.
   Holds me with no effort.
      Holds my darkness and knows it
 
as weightless, as transient,
   as something that will shift,
      disappear, return, and shift again.
 
It never says no to me.
   I am still learning to trust life, to trust
      no matter how I show up, I will be held.
 
Trust that my life is not a problem.
   Trust that as much as I am the shadow,
      I am also the field.

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Revival


The day your son died, the person you were died, too.
            —Mirabai Starr


Death came to her
as a blue sky day,
as a feral scream,
as an ambulance
with no need
for its siren.
Death came to her
saying, “Ma’am,
you don’t want
to see your son
this way.” Death
knew what it
was doing when
it erased everything
she’d thought
about how to meet
a day, when it scraped
her of who
she had been
and left her barren.
It was habit
that made her
brush her teeth,
routine that helped
her drive the car.
But it was life itself
that inspirited
her, slipping
 like starlight
into her every
dark cell, life itself
that whispered
to her death-bent heart,
You are not done
yet with your
loving.

*

this poem has been published in ONE ART

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after Hope II by Gustav Klimt


I am still thinking of the pregnant woman
on the fifth floor in room five hundred four
in a gold and jewel-toned Byzantine gown
with her eyes closed and her head bowed
down toward her swollen belly. Has she
glimpsed the gray skull attached to her womb?
Is this why her eyes are closed? Did she
somehow guess at what I now know—
that to say yes to a birth is to also say yes
to the death of that child—how the end
is in every one of us from the beginning.
It is right the soon-to-be mother
is nearly naked. This is what birth
and death do to us—no matter how
rich our clothes, we are utterly exposed—
not a damn thing to protect us
from our impermanence. I have fallen
in love with her, this mother to be—
in love with the curl of her fingers,
in love with the flex of her wrist,
in love with her flat and ornate robe,
in love with her delicate face,
and in love with her ripening shape—
this is how the human story goes.
Death hides in all our robes.
It’s the only way to live.


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Cast your lot with all small things.
—Sharon Corcoran, from her new poetry collection The Two Worlds


Today I cast my lot
with the tiny tea leaves
giving their all to hot water.
I cast in with the light touch
of my brother’s hand on my shoulder
and the slight whimper my mother makes
when she finds in the closet the gift
my father had bought them for Christmas.
This, the first full day of life
without my father,
a loss so big
that all I can meet
are the smallest things—
candle flame, scrap of song,
orange butterfly wing.
They lead me like crumbs
toward courage, toward life—
and so I join in with the teeny blue flowers
still blooming on the rosemary bush.
I cast my lot with the thin creak of hope
heard only when tears are falling,
with the faintest gleam of love
only able to be seen in the darkness.

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