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Posts Tagged ‘love’


The heart doesn’t have perfectionism.
            —Joi Sharp


All night I dreamt
I was teaching a class
I’d never prepared for.
I’d never even seen
the textbook,
didn’t have a roster
for the students,
and couldn’t understand
how I’d arrived in this place
where I seemed destined
to let everyone down.
Even the chalk wouldn’t work
on the chalkboard.
All night I fought
an inner monster,
the one that says,
You are not enough.
All night it chased me
through the channels
of my fears, those
synaptic paths
well-traveled for years.
Oh world, let me be
the student.
Let me be one
who learns to live
through the heart,
who loves with confidence.
Let me study the ways
love meets the monster—
not with a fight
but with indifference.

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for Lara Young, who pulls in all the wounded mamas with love, and for the other mamas, I am so grateful for you


At the edge of the happy throng,
we found each other,
five women who had lost a child.
Of course, we cried,
but damn, how we laughed
as we mobbed the photo booth
and dressed in bright wigs
and pink glasses and mustaches.
One woman was a blue crayon,
another wore a crown,
another held a bottle of red wine
as if to guzzle the whole bottle down.
And as the photographer lifted his lens,
the woman in the gold top hat howled,
When life fucks you up the ass,
and lifted a hand as if to say,
What do you do with that?
And we all knew what she meant.
What do you do with that except
weep when you weep
and laugh when you can
and love all the more
and slip the pink sequin gown over your arms
and smile for the camera
as one of the other moms squeezes your ass
and another one rests her head on your shoulder,
smile because that’s what a naked heart does
when surrounded with love,
smile because there is collateral beauty
you never could have dreamed of,
smile because the memory of these beloved children
is so alive here,
smile because. Because.

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inspired by “First Steps” (after Millet) by Vincent Van Gogh and a song by the same name by Kayleen Asbo


Like a sweet and lyrical song
that ends long before the heart is satisfied —
like the first pale green of spring
that disappears by morning,
those first steps of a child.
How we cheer. How we celebrate
the very thing that will lead
our child away from the shelter
of our arms. And still,
even knowing what I know now
of loss and grief, memory insists
on repainting those first steps
in only the loveliest hues.
Years later, I am still kneeling,
arms open, stunned
by the beauty of independence,
thrilled by those first uncertain steps.
Oh my child, who can say
where your steps take you now?
Though my heart breaks, my god,
still I cheer for you.

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Driving over Dallas Divide
I thought how not all streams
are destined to come together—
at least not for a long, long time.
Imagine, two snowflakes landed
side by side atop the Divide. Come spring,
one might flow west to the San Miguel,
the other east to the Uncompaghre.
It would be over a hundred miles
of flowing through beaver dams
and irrigation ditches, rapids
and eddies, before the waters
could meet again.
And so it is tonight, I feel a rush
of gratefulness that however
it happened, you and I have somehow
managed to be moving right now through
these landscapes of change together.
Think of all of the paths
that could have pulled us apart.
And yet here we are, you and I,
moving across and around obstacles,
you and I traveling together
through everything the world
has thrown at us, you and I.
diverging and coming back together,
two bodies, many possible paths
one water.

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Any chemistry student
can tell you: a substance
that undergoes transformation
must first be torn apart.
I have been torn apart.
I have felt the breaking,
the rearranging,
and now the rebuilding
of my bonds. I marvel
at the brand new molecules—
how they transform
from despair to openness.

Though I look the same
and sound the same,
there is no mistaking
I am forever changed—
but not by sorrow, no.
Sorrow is the catalyst
that speeds it all up.
But it is love absorbed
that is breaking the bonds,
and love that evolves
as new bonds are made.

Some days I feel it,
I am less what I was and more
whatever it is that drives
the autumn, the spring.
Every day the chance
for love to find its way in.
And each time love helps me
to meet the unmeetable,
the reactant of self
becomes offering.  

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inspired by Leigh Gage


I try to make it beautiful—a spacious place
with room enough for blue birds to migrate,
where whole herds of elk can bed down,
and with fields so vast they hold
every memory of you—
not just the warmhearted memories,
but the hardest ones, too.
Those I hold up to the soft light of morning,
grateful for room enough to walk around them
and give them the space they need.
Those I hold up to the sharp light of noon
and say, yes, yes, it was like that.
I fill my heart with the scent of apple pie and cinnamon,
lemon zest and the river in spring.
Sometimes, when I am most vulnerable,
there’s a floral fragrance of forgiving.
I try to keep my heart soft. I try not to clench,
not to harden, not to set. I try to create
a place where you can rest, where you can stay.
It is full of blank books, each one waiting to be filled
with stories of how it is with you living here in my heart,
this place where you have always lived,
this place even death cannot take away—
this place death has made more holy, more real.

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The Bailiff of the Heart wears comfortable shoes—
she knows she’ll be standing
outside the heart’s door
for a long, long time,
while inside the many voices of love deliberate.
It’s never so simple as innocent or guilty.
The heart is full of what ifs and if onlys
and the jury’s aware of what’s at stake—
nothing less than everything.
The bailiff doesn’t mind.
She can hear them in there bellowing,
pleading, reasoning, stonewalling.
She gets them water. She tells the court to wait.
It’s her job to protect their conversation.
She long ago gave up believing in justice.
Still, she believes in love.
 

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knowing now
how fragile our hearts—
still choosing love

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The Inconceivable

Nothing can separate us from love.
There is no way to know this
without paying a cost so great
some part of us longs to bargain
with the universe and trade back
the priceless truth. But part of us—
the part that cannot be named,
the part that wakes at dawn,
the part that sings in the darkness,
the part that wades in the infinite—
it’s not so much that this part says yes,
more that it simply expands with the truth,
much as the universe itself expands
due to a dark, mysterious energy.
Any scientist will tell you,
empty space is not nothing.
We who grieve learn
to hold that empty space
and know it as love.
I know, it’s inconceivable.
We feel how it holds us, too.


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I hope we remember forever
this trip to New York—
remember the trees in pink bloom
along the High Line in Chelsea,
remember the tiramisu
at Joe G.’s near Carnegie,
remember the reflecting pool
outside the Lincoln Center,
and how the whole city shined
after rain. And I hope we remember
forever the way the man stole my brown hat
when the wind blew it off my head
and he shouted It’s mine, It’s mine, and ran off,
how unsettling it was to be interviewed
by the newspaper of a cult, and
what a bummer it is to have food poisoning
and try to watch a play.
I hope we remember forever the memorial
where the twin towers once stood—
how beautiful the falling water is
and how grave.
This is the way the world is—
so lost and so precious all at once.
Each time something was tough,
I would say to myself, well, no one died.
But you and I know that sometimes
the one we love dies.
And we can bear it.
Not only can we bear it,
we can thrive. We will find beauty
and gravity everywhere we go
and still, we can love this world,
we can love each other,
still we can love, we can love.
  

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