Posts Tagged ‘opening’

One Bewilderment




my heart a red fist,

beating, intent on self-protection

when, despite itself,

it opens, astonished, to find

it’s a peony, a sunrise, a wing

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More Opening to Do




But I took the door

off the hinges,

I said, knowing

I had more opening

to do. Yes,

said God, before

tearing down

the whole house.

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One Landing




climbing the stairs

only to find they don’t end anywhere—

the heart closes

like butterfly wings, only to open again,

why? because that’s what wings do

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Who knew the heart

had so many doors,

most of them invisible

until the very moment

the hand brushes the knob,

and out of habit, perhaps,

the wrist makes a turn

and suddenly

there is an opening

where moments before

there was only wall.

There are thresholds

beyond our dreaming

right here within

the lives we live.

They have been here

all along.

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It is perhaps, no miracle, this glass

of aromatic Chartreuse, but

it opens the mouth surprisingly.

Sweetly green. Intensely green.

A wildly vital explosion of green

that baptizes the inside of the cheeks,

a smile turned in on itself.

Here in the glass, the taste

of three hundred years of practice,

here the devotion of Carthusian monks

who live in the mountains of France.

If I were more discerning, perhaps

I could find in it notes of hyssop and thyme,

cinnamon, mace, lemon balm, angelica root.

But of the one hundred thirty ingredients,

I taste mostly peppermint. And green.

What I most wish to taste

in the glass is a hint of silence.

Some of the monks speak once a week.

Some speak once a year. The rest of the time

they spend in study. And prayer.

My friend Alan says he stole a bottle once.

I think I taste the why. Not the flavor,

though it’s alluring, but the way

it makes the mouth

so aware of itself, so utterly alive,

so willing to believe there’s

so much more to learn

about opening.

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Curled on the couch
my daughter and I
get lost for an hour
on the English moor
where the golden gorse
and the purple heather
grow wild around
the empty manor,
where once upon a time ago
I found the same garden
with the same brass key
and the same white lilies
and the same rose trees
while curled on the lap
of my own sweet mother
on another couch
in another home. I feel
in my girl the same thrill
I once felt as the story unfolds
and the characters all
learn just how much
there is to unlock.
Not far from this couch,
our small garden waits
for spring to unwinter
the frozen soil. I like to imagine
something stirring out there
in the dark beneath the snow—
the strawberry roots?
or oregano? But it is just
an imagining. Meanwhile,
here on the couch, there
is perhaps a blossoming:
a girl who says, “Mommy,
what will happen next?”
and a mother who
feels inside of her
some long forgotten door

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Not even a gust
and for no
apparent reason
the heart
blows open
and just
like that
innumerable stars
rush in
not to mention
all the space
between them

of course it’s
and on the other,
well, after marveling
there’s nothing to do
but invite the universe
in for a cup
of decaf chai
then tuck us
all in
for a good night’s

who knows
what could happen

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The heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking.
Stanley Kunitz, “Testing Tree”

Like any other muscle,
the heart, when injured,
will clench, and will stay that way

for a long, long time, most likely
long past the time of usefulness.
But when it relaxes again,

perhaps because it has been touched
in just the right way, or perhaps
just because it is exhausted

with its own clenching, well then
it is like when the sun hits the forest
in late morning and releases the scent

of pine and greening leaves.
And it is like when you walk past a spring
and a dozen blue butterflies all brush

you with their wings, a feeling so impossibly
soft and tender that you cannot help
but let the heart stay open, though you know

it will be wounded again. It is not
in the end the heart itself that matters.
It is the practice of releasing again, again.

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Eight Self-Portraits

after the glass slipper fit
deciding to go barefoot


I could be more open
if you stopped reaching
said the hand


black sheep, black sheep
you are such a fool, yes sir yes sir
eyes don’t go with wool


peeking into my broken heart
only to find another heart broken
a breeze goes through


we could dance more often
if you sang more
said the toes


even sad songs
are good
for dancing


look at her
thinking she has to try harder
her hands two hummingbirds


it never came back,
that goldfinch, but every morning
she sets out the seeds

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Three Releases

that gray cloth
we’ve wrapped around us,
it is too tight, too warm for us now—
quick, get the scissors
before I get cozy again


tuning my ears
to the melody,
realizing the reason
I could not hear it—
I have been singing too loud


after twenty years
of hiding, of dressing
in veils
I finally stop blaming you
for not seeing me

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