Posts Tagged ‘love’

I Will Always Remember

And when I could not stand—
when the weight of life
was more than I could hold alone—
my brother held me in his big arms
and said in my ear, I’ve got you.
Though grief expanded
and increased inside me
like a terrible mutinous bloom,
I’ve got you, he said.
Though it swelled and threatened
to swamp us, he wrapped me
in a tenderness equally vast.
I’ve got you, he said, as I wept.
I’ve got you, he said, infusing me
with a love so robust I knew
I could fall into even the deepest sorrow
and still he would catch me,
would catch me, would hold me,
would hold me as long as he had arms. 
When I was most afraid to be alone,
I was not alone. I’ve got you, he said,
and I fell and I fell, the world a dark rush,
and he caught me, my brother,
and held me as all around us
what I thought I knew of the world
slipped away, slipped further away.

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The Gift

It still had its leaves on it,
the pomegranate she handed me.
And holding that smooth red sphere
in my palm, I felt not only
the jeweled weight of each bright seed,
but also the weight of the many nights
the fruit had hung on the tree,
felt how the nights had slowed the growth
so the fruit could develop more sugar.
Not all things get to ripen.
Oh, this small gift of sweetness.
How it opened in me such red tenderness—
the memory of a boy learning how
to open and eat a pomegranate,
scarlet juice trickling down his chin.
And now. I hold it in awe,
this beautiful thick-skinned globe,
hold it less like a fruit,
hold it more like a love
I was just beginning to know.

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No Trophy, But

Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly
feel more love than I do,
today, the heart beats its own record—
falls in love with my daughter
singing Disney in the car.
In love with my husband
heating water for my tea.
In love with the leaves as they spread
golden praise through the yard.
In love with the sacred mess.
In love with each person who
meets another with kindness.
I fall in love with cats and candles,
the hill as I climb it,
the wind as it chills me,
and sunflowers that bloom despite snow.
And the raw me who aches, I love her, too.
And the naked me who weeps—
what else is she supposed to do?
And the quiet that comes
when I lean in to listen to what is most true.
It wasn’t a love contest today,
and yet, inside me, love continued to grow.
Last week, I felt emptied, scoured,
scraped clean, prepared for something—
I knew not what.
Perhaps I was being prepared for more love.
Love for the emptiness. Love for the scouring.
Love for the being scraped clean. Love
that expands despite heartache, because heartache.
Love that asks nothing. And gives it all.
And keeps giving.

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For two hours, I am the woman
who works at the orphanage, the woman
who falls in love with a man from India
who is not who he says he is.
He and I make love for hours beneath a mirror,
twining our limbs in a sea of silk,
and he shows me the pleasure
of losing the stories I’ve told myself
about what is possible with love.
When, after many pages, we arrive at happily ever after,
I find myself on the couch in my kitchen,
notice my own thick legs curled beneath me,
my own raw heart in my tired chest
doing its faithful work. I’m surprised
to return to my own story:
the woman who is grieving—the woman
in the empty room who listens
for the voice that isn’t there, who listens
for the footsteps that do not come.
I am the woman whose son took his life;
rewrite: I am the woman still learning how to love him.
For the last two hours, I had forgotten her,
had forgotten this woman whose story I know as my own.
I had forgotten the ache she carries,
the constant throb. Though it cuts, though it wounds,
I am so grateful to return to her life,
to her story—the story of how she gave her everything
to someone she loved, how she knows he loved her, too.
Though their story isn’t one she had wanted to live,
it’s the story she would never give up, not a second of it.
He is still teaching her, even now, even now.
Such a gift to be this woman being rewritten by love,
love with its infinite ink. Even now,
she meets the next blank page of her life.
Love holds the pen.

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In these days when the torrents of grief flood deep,
when sorrow pools like blood on the floor,
in these days when I can do nothing but meet this moment,
when I am too spent to say hello,
love comes to meet me where I am.
It holds me while I cry. It cradles me where I sit.
It steps with me as I walk. There was, at first,
a moment when I tried to push it away,
alarmed by this onslaught of love.
Too much, I protested, arms up in resistance,
but love obliterated my no.
It moved in to hold me from the inside,
slipped into my tissue, my bones,
it infused itself into each tiny cell, each organelle,
and made inside me a home. Since that moment,
I am never alone. Now it is love that moves my hand.
Love that shapes each word. Love that helps me rise.
Love that pours the tea.
Love that wakes with me in the middle of the night.
Autonomic love that makes the heart beat,
autonomic love that makes the lungs breathe.
autonomic love that meets the impossible grief
and surrounds it with an impossible grace.
Love that grips me around the heart
as if to save me from drowning.
Love that murmurs again and again,
I’ve got you, Sweetheart, I’ve got you.

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I did not know how beautiful,
grief could be, how generous—
like an improvised cello sonata
in a minor key, a melody
that leaps and wails, unfurls
into harmonic bloom
and makes the whole body
tremble. There is a purity
in it—a sweetness that says
you are here and I will hold you
as long as you meet me.

When others tell me
they wish they could take
some fraction of the pain,
I thank them and I mean it,
but I would not let them
take even the tiniest portion.
To meet grief is to be
deeply steeped in love,
to know the self as wildly alive,
tugged apart by beauty, by loss.

And grief draws its bow
across the strings of the moment—
sonorous and lyrical.
Oh this sensuous rush of the world.
And how is it through tears, through ache,
through breathtaking pain,
I find myself saying thank you?

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Dear friends, 

It has been seven weeks since I sent you a poem–seven weeks since my son chose to take his life. Thank you for all the ways you’ve supported me in this time–prayers, emails, letters, gifts. Though I have been unable to respond to all your kindness with personal notes, please accept my enormous gratitude. Thank you. Thank you for all the love and kindness I have felt surrounding and infusing me–I have never felt alone. I am so grateful for you. 

I think I am ready to continue the daily sharing. We’ll see how it goes. 

with love, 

Digging Potatoes, 2021

I am not the woman I was
a year ago when my son and I
harvested potatoes. Today
I must look like her—
bare hands in the dirt,
sunhat on. But she did not know
the deep loss of losing a son.
Perhaps she’d imagined it.
That is why she did everything
she could to keep such a loss
from happening. But the woman
I am today knows all too well
what I cannot control.
I plunge my fingers
into the cold earth
and talk to my son
as if he can hear me.
I miss you, I say. And I reminisce
about all the other years
we did this together. I ooh
at the size of the potatoes,
hold them up as if he can see.
What does love care of absence?
Love grows, despite death—
it roots in each cell and insists
on tendrilling, touching everything.
In the middle of the night,
a voice commanded me to remember:
Life needs us to live it.
All day I puzzle over the message.
All day I lean into the words.
I say them out loud as I pull out
potatoes, ask my son what he thinks
it might mean. No reply. He has become
one with life now in a way
I cannot yet understand.
And so I breathe into it, this chapter
of loss, this life needing me to live it.
All around me, inside me,
I notice how so much is changing, notice
in each moment, a new invitation.

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On the day
I most needed
to remember
how to pray,
a prayer shawl
arrived in the mail.
I wrapped myself in it
and felt in the trinity stitch
the singing of my name,
felt the colors tether me
to my own heart.
Sometimes when we
feel most alone,
the world conspires
through the goodness
of others to remind us
who we are,
remind us that now
is the right moment
to wrap ourselves
in the kind of beauty
no fear can extinguish,
now is the right moment
to feel how,
though we are alone,
love floats
around our shoulders
soft and so warm.

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One Distant

across the world
sleep holds you—
wide awake
I listen for the sound
of your breath

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Seeing Clearly

Forgive me for wanting to fix you.
As if we could be anything
but who we are.
Forgive me for every time
I have looked at you with hawkish eyes,
eyes with talons, eyes that hunt.
Forgive me for thinking I know
what you need, for thinking I am right.
For scrutinizing, for judging,
for using my gaze to build walls.
I want to look at you with eyes
as soft as the light in the field after dawn.
Want to meet you with eyes
as benevolent as rain. Want to see you
with eyes as open as sky, open as innocence.
Want to see myself this way, too—
then, it is easier to soften, to lean in, to bloom.
This is how I want to look at you—
not with eyes that fix, but eyes
that dismantle defensiveness,
eyes that say let us meet in our flawedness,
eyes unstintingly generous,
a gaze that says you are safe with me,
a gaze born of humility, a gaze made of wings.

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