Posts Tagged ‘loss of self’



Not that I want to be someone else,

just that I want to be less myself,


which is to say less the woman

who thinks she knows anything


about anything—gardening or writing

or skiing or parenting or loving—


I want to be less who I am and

more what a tree is, what a star is,


protons fused with other protons,

and the strong force that holds


particles together in the center of atoms,

and the weak force that breaks the atoms down,


and the electromagnetic force that binds

all molecules. Yes, this is how I want to meet you,


without a name, unencumbered by a me,

a collection of atoms and forces that rhyme


with you, linked as we are from the very beginning.

How easy it is then to say hello, to fall in love


with each other, the world.


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Gold, gold, gold, gone.
This is the season of surrender.

The time for release has come.
Aflame! Then emptiness.

It happens so fast.
I notice the no rising up

in my throat, and notice, too,
how it has no effect on what is.

How quickly the invitation to change
becomes the change.

Emptiness everywhere.
Again, I find myself

the student of yes.
I know I will learn

to find it beautiful, the emptiness.
Already, I feel it doing its slow

unselving work inside me.
Oh wind, do to me what you do

to the trees. Take me and shake me
and loosen my hold on whatever gold

I would grasp. Oh October, teach me
how this, too, is a beginning.

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Six Blurrings

my hand
your heart


last year’s snow
rushes through
the valley—
some lonelinesses
can not be quenched


what is
the one
that notices
the one who thinks
she feels lonely?


in my pages
rubbing an arnica leaf
out of the blank
a heart of graphite


in a red wagon
the old man
pulls to the grave
his mother
her ashes


I refuse
to see it
as a problem

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Even while she is singing,
her mask comes off—the cheeks,
the brow, the lips still moving

even after they’ve been discarded
on the tray beside the brown hair.
Beneath that face, another face.

Its lips sing the same quiet song.
The mirror is not surprised.
Into the new face, the scalpel slips

and the next layer pulls away.
Eyebrows, nose bridge, chin, jaw.
And the lips keep singing

as they away they fall.
The woman is no less herself.
She is not who she thought

she was. She is being sung.
The mirror lets slip
the passing layers.

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Mommy, she says,
I can see right through myself.
What do you see,
I ask.

I see the night,
she says.
Are there stars,
I ask.

She pauses long.
And then a few moments later
she says, Mom, I’ve disappeared.

How do they do it,
these young ones,
teach us to be
so wholly here.

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How the Days Go

Looking in the rubble
one might wonder
what is left to break.
Such a dangerous thought.
There is always more.
And one part of me
says to the other,
Hush, don’t ask.
Don’t look. Things
are settling now.
Let’s talk about
something else.
And the other part
smiles, says
nothing, already
feeling the distant

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Poet, you do not need to smile.
No need to lean toward me
as if whispering the secret that will save me.
You do not need to know anything
for certain. Please.
Here we are in silence.
Your eyes, they are so naked.
Let’s not speak. Not even
these beautiful words we’ve been given.

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Oh world, I love you,
you with your roots
that thrust up through pavement,
you with your mudflows
and rockfalls and storms.
See how daily you feed
and destroy me. How
gorgeous your fruits,
how merciless your gravity.
I love you, world, how
you make me and fuel me
and undo me again and again. Always
another death to die
and always a new bloom.
Never the same, always
the same. World, it feels
too proud to say I am you,
you with your splendor,
you with your grace.
I am dust and ashes.
You move me, adventure me.
World, thy will be done.
My problems are not problems.
My laws all are nonsense.
My rules, my dreams are cages.
Sometimes I forget to let you
raze me. I try to wrestle
the club from your hands.
And when the destruction
is done, I try to rebuild the walls,
not seeing you were offering me
infinity. Sometimes you first bring me milk,
then tear me down tenderly,
your hands the hands of a lover
undressing me slowly, but not
stopping with the scarf, the skirt—
taking also every idea I have,
every certainty, every word,
everything I would say is mine.
World I am rambling through
the silence you hold for me.
I am like a woman dying of thirst
who splashes the water with eager hands
instead of cupping it, raising it to her parched lips.
Oh world, I am losing my mind
and laughing about it. All language
is dust, and look, you blow it away.
Still I am talking to you, crazy,
I love you, I love you. Come wind,
catch these words, rend them
from the one who thinks
she is speaking. Let them fall
all around her like leaves.

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This rope of love
I tied in knots
without knowing
how to untie them.

Knot after knot,
I tied a net
for catching
myself, all the while

longing for freedom.
Why do we play
such games—
one hand open

in prayer, begging
for one thing,
the other hand working
as fast as it can

for the opposite.
You know the old
magician’s trick
when he produces

from his pocket
a knotted rope,
mumbles some magic,
and with his words

all the knots fall out.
Ta da! Well, it was not fast like that,
but slowly and quietly
and one by one

with both hands
open and by some
miracle all the knots came
undone and I

am falling, falling
through the threads
I thought would save me,
falling into the stark

between the stars,
falling through
the fragrance of laughter
and the silence

after that.

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You are nothing but materials for burning
—Dorothy Walters

I wanted to be
somebody, not
just somebody
but somebody
wonderful and
preferably thin.
I wanted to be
somebody loved
and loving, someone
worth listening to,
someone fun, and
for forty two years
I built her into
a me, but she
is just a heap
of labels, a pile
of shoulds, a
list of pretty knowns
and fueling the one
who wants, there
is the one who is.

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