Posts Tagged ‘mess’

All at Once

Before I woke, my son and I
were eating breakfast—

a beautiful brown-crusted boule,
warm from the oven,

and he was slicing it and making
a giant mess of it,

the bread tearing and smushing,
and we were laughing—

his head was thrown back
with the joy of making a mess,

carefree and goofy and foolish.
Crumbs everywhere.

God, how I loved him
as he smashed a hardboiled egg

onto the uneven slice.
How I loved him

as he stuffed his mouth
with the botched bread and egg.

How I loved him as we laughed
and laughed and laughed.  

How I loved him when I woke
and he was dead,

his absence making the love
no less beautiful, no less true,

our laughter no less mirthful
in the empty room.

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I resist peeling beets,
hate wearing their red tint
on my hands,
but today, the thought
of sweet roasted beets
was enough to make me
overcome my reticence.
Later, I notice it is impossible
to feel separate and alone
when my hands wear the evidence
of what they have touched.
I find myself wishing
everyone could see on my skin
how my life has been marked by you,
how everywhere we touched
I wear the stain of love.

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Earl Gray

Today the lesson is in the little black leaves
floating freely in the tea, loosened
from their bag. How quickly things come apart—
things I wish would stay intact.
And yet I drink from the dark cup
and find joy in the bold, citrusy warmth.
Though it’s messy, though the bits catch
in my teeth and tickle in my throat,
though it isn’t what I would have wanted,
neither has it ruined the pleasure of bergamot,
the sharpness of lemon, the flavor
of acceptance, of morning.

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… one sector of the self can step in for another in trouble

            —Kay Ryan, “Why We Must Struggle”



Because the heart is a mess

I mop the floors. And shake

the rugs. And find homes


for all the knick knacks

and papers that clutter

the shelves. And when


the heart is still a mess,

I scour sinks. Then wipe

the mirrors. Hours go by.


The drawers are straightened.

Sheets and towels refolded.

Even the piano keys


are not sticky any more.

The filter in the fish tank

is scrubbed and changed.


But what does the heart care

for cleanliness? It walks

across the polished room


in its muddiest shoes

leaving gravel on the floors.

Shoves all the pillows off the couch


to make a cozier spot

for fussing, then spreads its troubles

across the counters


where they more easily

can be seen. Organizing the lot

is beyond me, but


I notice how,

between those muddled troubles,

the counters gleam.




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finding myself waist-deep

in a mud puddle,


if I’d rather

have you pull me out

or if it might not

be more fun

to pull you in

and reel in mud


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And Not Push Any of It Away

The way the morning sun
in the kitchen shows up all the fingerprints
on the cupboards
and casts shadows past
every crumb on the floor—

isn’t it like that,
a woman who once
begged for more light
only to see, as the light
grew, so many messes
that had gone unseen.
That is not how she’d
told herself it would be.

Perhaps this is
part of what she sees,
not only the mess,
but the one who thinks
she must do something.

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balanced on a twig—
two blue dragonflies and
all that space between them


the story, calloused
and gnarled, inside it
red leaping blood


picking up the moon
like a telephone to dial
your number, of course


dessert for
the Armageddon


opening a can
of worms to find
rose petals

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