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Posts Tagged ‘loss’

This Difficult Day

Today the prayer is words
I can’t yet find,

words that flit away
like spring juncos, like chickadees.

Today the prayer I wish for
is not the prayer that finds me—

less like the perfume of a fully bloomed flower
more like the dank and fusty scent of spring.

Some days when I forget how to pray,
if I listen with my whole body,

the world reminds me how what is used up, spent
is also a vessel for the holy,

as dry leaves become a nest
as bare branches hold the sunrise.

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The Song Speaks

Lyrics from “Golden Slumbers” by Paul McCartney and John Lennon


 
I love when my lyric
slips into your thoughts,
when I float from your lips
for hours. Once there was a way
to get back homeward.
Sometimes I even believe
my own lines.
Once there was a way
to get back home.
Sometimes when you sing me,
I have faith in home.
Please pretty darling do not cry.
And yet you do cry
and make me want to forget
I am a song about longing,
a song of loss.
I want to be the song of finding,
song of arriving together,
song of coming home.
I want to be the song
that lies down to sleep
beside your heart each night.
I will sing a lullaby.
I want to be the song
that that makes you breakfast.
The song that dances with you
in the living room.
The song that always stays.
 

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And there you were not
on the shelf with your shiny red skin,
and there you were not in the pan
in thin pink rings filling the air,
and there you were not
in the sauce, that warm underlayer
that grounds the bright tomato—
all night I missed you.
All night, the red wine kept asking,
Where is it? Where is it?
All night, I thought of how
what is missing is sometimes
most here.

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When I say Happy New Year,
I hear my grandmother’s voice
inside my voice, the way
she slapped the first syllable,
the way silence hung for a moment
before she finished the rest of the phrase.
HAP-py New Year!
Each time I say the words, she
is so alive in that moment—
the syllables themselves
wear her bright red nails,
her signature updo
and her rhinestone earrings.
HAP-py New Year!
I sing out again and again,
loving how she enters
each conversation this day.
There are small ways
to bring our beloveds back,
little rituals so strong they
defy the loss, so strong
that each time we do them
we become more and more
who we love. Her voice
becomes my voice and her
joy becomes my joy.
I don’t have to look in the mirror
to see she is here, her smile
my smile curving up from the inside.

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Forecast

Nobody keeps any of what he has, and life is only a borrowing of bones.

          

  —Pablo Neruda, “October Fullness,” trans. Alistair Reid

And if we can keep nothing of what we have

then let us love more right now. Naked as sunlight

and unapologetic as ripe apples. Let’s invent

new compassions and conjure new kindnesses

out of what seems to be dust.

And if life is only a borrowing of bones,

then let us use them well while we may.

Just today I ran through the corn maze

and marveled at the joy of being lost.

Bless these borrowed femurs and spines.

Bless these borrowed skulls.

And let us love more right now.

Though the forecast is for loss.

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That Song

I want to slip into the song

you sang, the one with verse

about loss. I want to hang

on its notes as if they were branches

I could swing from, want to climb

through its chorus, want to meet it

in its rests, want to offer it tea.

I want to ask the guitar

about your fingers, about

how they knew where

to find the melody. And how?

I want to speak with the loss itself,

want to ask it if it’s sure its lost,

want to offer it a map made of apples

and wings and moon.

I want to hear the silence after

the song, and then beg it, beg it,

to keep singing.

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Anthem

 

 

 

Today’s anthem is not

my chorus of curses

when the cat knocked

the glass of sauvignon blanc

into my open laptop.

It’s not the clashing swords

in the movie we watched

nor the sobbing

that shook me this morning

when I tried to speak of loss.

The anthem is not

the click of the door

nor the snap of the branch

beneath the Stellar’s jay

nor the soundless slide

of the moon.

Today’s anthem was the hum

I know you would have made

if you’d held me while I wept,

the waves of our breath

inviting us to wade

deeper in.

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Every year the red or pink envelopes would arrive,

three of them tucked into the post office box—

one for my daughter, one for my son, and one

for me. Sally always remembered. My children

were, perhaps, a bit cavalier about the cards—

they’d read the Valentines and smile and set them aside.

But I had an inkling of the longing to give love

inside them. How beautiful her heart.

How lucky I felt to be chosen by her.

How lucky to return her love.

 

This year, only bills in the post office box

and catalogs for sheets and seeds and clothes.

And the part of me who knows she is gone

shrugs as if I should just go on. But the part

of me who misses her longs today to find

her familiar script on a red envelope. I know

that it’s unreasonable. That doesn’t stop hope.

 

I tell the part that misses her that it’s okay

to grieve. That it’s okay to feel empty today.

That it’s okay to want to believe in miracles.

I love the part of me that misses her—I love

how it insists on remembering this gift:

Such a wonder to be loved by someone,

such a marvel to love them back.

 

 

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How It Goes with Hope

Eventually a burning hope
becomes ember, becomes glow,
becomes gone.
Whatever fuel it found
is spent, is done, is ash.
Not that you blame hope
for losing its brilliance.
More that you become
increasingly intimate with what is.
What is is an absence. What is
doesn’t sit in your lap. What is
doesn’t come to the door.
What is is very quiet.
But there is, if not hope,
a tenderness that lingers,
a tenderness that has a glow
of its own, a tenderness
that you carry with you
until it becomes you,
a warmth, a golden light
there when you fall asleep,
still there when you rise.
*
(note: sweet friends, thank you for all the emails and even the lovely letter about the loss of our cat, Otter. I didn’t mean to leave you hanging. She has not returned, and I am quite sure she met a predator. But my dear friend Jack gave me the sweetest advice: Please, when you are ready, begin to—maybe for only a minute—carry Otter in your body. That invitation a couple weeks ago was the basis for the feeling that evolved into this poem. And here it is, evidence of the small ways that we help each other as we carry grief. Thank you all. Thank you.)

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deep desert canyon of the heart—

it remembers when

it was ocean

 

 

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