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Posts Tagged ‘losing the self’

Autumnal

after William Stafford

When the leaves are about to yellow and fall

ask me then how I tried to hold on to what was green,

how I thought perhaps I was different,

how everything I thought I knew about gold

turned brittle and brown. Ask me what it was like

to fall then. Sometimes the world becomes invisible

and we know ourselves as the world. Sometimes

the only words that can find our lips are thank you,

though the gifts look nothing like anything

we ever thought we wanted.

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sometimes it's clear

Lost: One woman, fortyish,
brown hair, tall, hazel eyes,
wearing black boots, jeans,
maroon sweater. Last seen
walking toward the edge of
what she thought was
possible. Can be identified
by a freckle on her left
pinkie finger. If seen,
ask her if she found the edge.
If she says yes, tell her to go
get lost again. That any edge
she can find is an illusion.
Tell here there is no
reward for her return.

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The liars lie and the stealers
steal and the lovers love and
the takers take. The fighters
fight and the restless do not
rest. And also true, the liars
love and the fighters steal
and the restless take
and the lovers fight and all of us,
all of us want to be right.

May I be wrong. May I come
to you without my books,
without my rules, without
my shoulds. Let me always
arrive at your door with empty hands.

Let me meet you with my pockets
full of blank, not convinced
of anything except
the possibility of everything.

Let me be wrong. Let me not label anyone
a liar. Let me bottom out.

What is it in us that wants to be right?
I have seen it turn a whole month, a whole life
to ice. I have felt the chains of certainty,
I have worn the shackles of listen-to-me.

Let me be wrong. Let there be chinks
in my belief. Let there be splinters
in my conviction. Look how alone it is
in this hour when I am so perfectly right.

May my rules go begging. May my imperatives
learn to crawl. May my righteousness hold
an empty bowl. May my musts all redden to rust.
And may I be wrong as the wrongers are wrong.
And may I unknow. And unlearn.
And unselve. And love as the lovers love.

*with a first line taken from David J. Rothman, “And Remember to Be Kind to Yourself”

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Just when I think
I am perfectly lost
I have to get
my fingerprints taken,
proof that not only am I
still here, but I am
indentified, classified, filed away,
and able to located.
No matter how many layers
of stories I have shed,
how many lifetimes
I think I have left behind,
no matter how many
shells of myself I have broken through,
no matter how much
I might like to think
I have changed
I am marked by the same
ten whorls. Oh be humble,
woman, and make way
for the light
to move in.

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Six Currents

what invisible blade
eviscerates this body
more space, more space

*

a new grammar
blurring first and third persons—
who thinks she is I

*

this needing you—
like expecting apple juice
from a peach

*

I’ll not believe you,
still the thrill when you say
I am beautiful

*

the emptier I get
the more room for god
to wrestle

*

perfume of ripe pears—
every part of me wearing
relentless gratitude

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Like Today

Sometimes the fences
of our thoughts fall down
and in that open meadow,

we know ourselves as each other.
In these moments,
we are overcome by tenderness,

and it is impossible to imagine
anything but love.
Any positions we had,

any delusions of me versus you
any stances of defensiveness or blame
evaporate. In those moments,

we give our everything to each other,
and there is no difference between
pain and joy and fear and courage—

it is all one immense feeling
that moves through us just as wind
moves through blades of grass

all waving as one immense field.
In these moments, which are perhaps
equally forever and now,

there is nothing to figure out,
nothing to plan, nothing to build
and nothing to learn. Though when

the fences are up, it’s almost impossible
to imagine it could ever be like this.
so impossible to imagine not staking in

just one more post, just one more rail.

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Three Escapes

for years
I have tried to lock
you out
not seeing that instead
I locked myself in

*

mom, he says,
do you ever think how great
it would be
to become water
going everywhere

*

standing
in the sunflowers
my whole body
practices
being sunflower

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walk this way

It is cold, oh,
it’s so, so cold,
and still the lover
says find the door,
walk out and come
to me. My breath
hangs in the air
between us, then
disappears. I shiver,
and the lover says
take off your clothes
and walk to me.
There are no promises
of warmth. Come here,
says the lover,
and take your time.
This is not how
I pictured it.
Why is it I’m sliding off
first one sock,
then the other,
my skirt, my slip,
my definition of bliss,
and letting them fall
in a heap to the floor.
Where’s the door?
Oh woman, be brave.
And if you cannot
be brave, be foolish.
And if you cannot
be foolish, then
hush and let the legs
just start walking.

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mostly fallen down
the barbed wire fence—
what’s it to the birds?

*

listening
for the moon—
sound of a heart

*

that hyacinth leaf—
staring at it until it is
no longer leaf

*

in the window
the boy waves at himself
saying he won’t stop
until the other boy
stops waving

*

poet, can you rhyme
with the cherry tree
in spring

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Like a pinecone
after it’s been trod on

and snowed on and
summered and rained on,

that is how I find myself.
Softer now, and with less

sense of separateness.
The earth has a fine way

of saying here, here.
And gravity, it makes things

so easy. I would not have thought
it sounded so good,

all that wearing down,
lessening to dust.

I could not have imagined
sharing my browns, much less

losing my sharpness, my articulate
serration, spilling my seeds.

Though spilling, that is what seeds
are for. And the opening beyond.

And losing the self, that is perhaps
what a self is for.

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