Posts Tagged ‘opening’

The Opening

Finn dancing, April 2021

Like this lily on the table
giving its everything to the world,
that’s the way I see your life.
For seventeen years, I watched you
open and open and open—
watched you hurl your body
off cliffs on skis. Watched you leap
on the stage more gazelle
than boy. Heard you weep
when your friends broke your heart.
Full on, my love, that’s how you lived,
the way so few others dare.
I saw you fail and try and fail and try
and fail and try again—every morning,
your petals outspread as you learned
how to be in this world, this world
that does its best to close us down.
You were the perfume of the wide open lily—
in every room you entered,
even when you were quiet,
everyone knew you were there.
Your presence. Your presence.
I honor the way you lived,
splaying wide, then wider,
your heart on full display until
you could no longer live this way.
I want to give myself
to this opening, though it hurts,
though I am left with the absence
of your bloom. I want to honor
the way you charged every room
of my heart with the beauty,
the pain of your being.  
I want to open
to the every memory of you—
to the memories where you shine,
to the memories where you
say goodbye to this world,
this world that asks for everything—
though the opening makes me weep,
though the opening asks me,
oh please, god, oh please, no,
not this,
the opening asks me for everything.

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The storehouse of treasures opens by itself. You can take them and use them any way you wish.
            —from Pacific Zen’s Miscellaneous Koan Collection

Even in deepest sorrow,
the storehouse of treasures
opens inside each moment—
I needn’t even knock on the door.
Nothing is asked of me.
I come to the storehouse
pockets empty, but feel
no need to fill my pockets.
All I want is to live in the opening.
All I want is to be used
by the treasure.
I want to be the treasure.

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Thank You

It’s not as if the door can decide:
Open. Closed. Locked. Unhinged.
The door is ever at the mercy
of the hand on the knob,
the shoulder that smashes it,
the wind that abruptly slams it shut,
the smile that swings it wide as noon.
Long ago, I learned every moment
has a door, and that those doors
never open themselves. That is why,
standing here, I am astonished
to see, through no effort of my own,
a door swing open. And how sweet
the surprise when I see
on the other side of the knob,
your hand.

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not reading the book
on letting go—
she opens her hand

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Every day, many times,
I push down the lever
that opens the door
from the room to the house,
from the house to the world.
Such a simple gesture,
grasping, then pushing,
then letting go.
Sometimes quickly,
as when I am trying
to keep the cat inside.
Sometimes slowly,
as when I am trying
to quietly enter
a room where someone else
is sleeping.
To open a door
is to move from one space
to another, perhaps a space
where dark rye bread is baking
filling the room with its midnight scent,
perhaps a space where a single
bare lightbulb is swinging,
perhaps a space filled with birdsong
or gunfire or stars or a final breath.
My whole life
I’ve been practicing
how to enter a space—
how to meet what is there
on the other side
and still be true to myself.
My whole life I’ve been opening doors,
some I immediately regretted,
though there is no going back.
The room I left is never the same
when I return,
nor am I the same.
My whole life
I’ve been opening inner doors,
always surprised to find
another, always surprised
how big the worlds are
in a space the size of me.
Every door I open
I practice how it is
to move through,
to move into, 
to offer my attention
to what is new,
perhaps a gust of wind,
a lullaby being sung,
a spacious grief or an expansive trust
I never dreamt was there.

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Despite the News




Again the rain,

and I wander

the tender green grass

of the field.

The hands pull weeds

because the hands

want something to do.

And the mind looks

for morels, because the mind

wants something to do.

And the feet wander,

because they are born

nomads. And the heart

opens. Not because

it wants to, but

because there is something

in the scent of rain

that suggests

so much is possible,

even, against all odds,

beauty. Even, though

it seems impossible,

another day.

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Why do we have to do this,

asks my daughter, hoe in hand,

and I, hoe in hand, reply

that it’s good for the soil

and helps it to breathe.


I think about how my own thoughts

crust over, how quickly

they become impenetrable.


And then hoe of loss. Hoe of hope.

Hoe of disbelief. Hoe of shock.


Again and again,

the world breaks me open,

allows the new to come in.


Again and again, I resist

the change. And then marvel

at how essential it is,

the new ideas so green,

so persistent, tender as

a girl asking why.



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Job Description



My work is to be the student of the buds

that have been on the birch all winter—

tight and red, they know when to clench,

when to wait, when to swell,

when to burst, when to green.


My work is to open like the scent of juniper

when stroked by afternoon sun,

like the gong when rapidly rapped

into a shining explosion of resonance.


And when I am wall, my work

is to add hinges and become door.


And when I am lock, my work

is to find the lost key.


My work is to be baby bird,

to open my beak and take in

whatever the world has to feed me

and then

learn to fly.



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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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