Posts Tagged ‘living’

For the Living

He has given you his love light to carry.
            —Wendy Videlock

It is the work of the living
to grieve the dead.
It is our work to wake each day,
to live into the world that is.
It is our work to weep,
and it is our work to be healed.
Some part of us knows
not only the absence of our beloveds,
but also their presence,
how they continue to teach us,
how they invite us to grow.
It is our work to be softened by loss,
to be undone, destroyed, remade.
Wounded, we recoil,
and it is our work to notice how,
like crushed and trampled grass,
we spring back.
It is our work to meet death again
and again and again,
and though it aches to be open,
it is our work to be opened,
to live into the opening
until we know ourselves
as blossoms nourished from within
by the radiance of the ones
who are no longer physically here.
They have given us their love light to carry.
It is our work to be in service to that light.

*For those of you who have been with the blog a long time, you may recall this poem in an earlier form from about five years ago … The first few line are the same, and the “it is our work” is the same, but it’s been fundamentally changed as my understanding of “our work” is ever evolving. I read it today at the memorial of a beloved member of the Telluride community, Clint Viebrock. For any who have loved someone and lost them, this poem is for you.

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Ways to Go



And if it gets colder and colder,

then I want to go out the way

the bean sprouts do—with their leaves,

though darkened, still in the shape of a heart.


And if it gets hotter and hotter,

then I want to go out like the ripples

that waver above the pavement

softening the edges of whatever can be seen.


And if Thanos really did snap his fingers

and half of all living creatures turned to dust,

I want to go like the Cheshire Cat,

my smile the last part of me to exist.


And if it’s a fast death, then

let me come back as a sparrow

so I can visit those I love

and sit on their porches and sing.


And if it’s a slow death, and I suppose

that’s what life is, may I talk too much about love.

May I go out saying thank you a thousand times

a day, astonished and gasping with praise.




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This is how



one lives

when she knows she will die—

she sits beside the river

and puts down the book

and lets the sun

scrawl its hot verses

on every page

of her body.

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Every Day

we need not worry
that we won’t survive … we won’t
until then, this song

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The End

Dusting the heads
of dead animals,
I think of how much
my father cherishes
this antelope, this duck,
this winged thing I cannot name,
and I understand that it is not
the thing itself that still
thrills him and makes
him want to keep it on the wall,
but the memory of the thing,
how alive it was, how alive
he was in the killing of it.


Over tempura, Pam tells me
of the time that she went
to a man’s home, and there
on the couch was his rich wife,
stuffed, her hand stretched out
in eternal greeting. It had been
in her will, the taxidermic clause
stating that he would lose everything
if he buried her. I sip my sake
and laugh, perhaps because
it is funny, perhaps because
I do not know what to say.


Though it is snowing
the room is filled with slant sunshine
and the light does what light does,
it seeks out the darkness.
I feel how what I think I know
has become something dead,
though once it greeted me
with open hands. Though once
I was ripe with it.


If we’re made of dust
what is doing the breathing?


Not that I want
an answer to that.
Only to be a vehicle
for asking.


In the parking lot,
the sound of geese.
No one could say
it is beautiful,
the strangled song
slicing the cold, clear air.
But they’re singing,
my god, they are singing.

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The day after I die,
I wake up a little late.
The sun is already
thick in the air—see it
glitter, all that dust I didn’t dust
before I died. I do not
dust it this day, either.
Nor do I worry
that I have not dusted.
I notice I have hands.
They are heavy
on my belly, my chest.
I rise. There is no
special exuberance
in the rising, though
it is a miracle. All day
I marvel. It is very quiet,
this grace. I saw myself
leaving these rooms,
this place. Yet death
came and went and
there is breakfast
to make and a job
to do and a hum
to be hummed by and later
this night when
my daughter comes
to me in her silky
pink Dora pajamas and
lifts up her arms,
she says into my neck,
I wish that my room
was farther away
because I like it when
you carry me and I
can pretend I
am asleep in your arms.
She pretends she is
asleep all the short way
to her bed, but when
I lay her there, she begins
to laugh and kick. Is this
what I have been doing
all my life, pretending
I am asleep? I lay with her
a long time, held by
invisible forces I could
perhaps explain but
do not understand.
All day, no one noticed
I had died. It’s not
that I was trying to hide
it. It must have been
all that life still falling
out of my pockets,
not that I was saving
it on purpose, just
that it was there
for the living.

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