Posts Tagged ‘openness’

Spring in Fall

for Suzan

It feels right to walk
through naked trees
with our naked hearts
and our naked hands
and thrill in the sound
of wind in dry grass
and delight in how quickly
the clouds are shredded.

You could say, it’s just a day,
but perhaps a day such as this
spent practicing awe and openness
is what changes everything.
You step out of yourself.
Suddenly, anything could happen.

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Easier to keep open the doors of the heart

when a feathery breeze comes through, or

the scent of lavender, or slant of sun. Harder


when a wounded tiger comes in. Of course,

the impulse then is to run it out and close

the doors. Lock them. Barricade and block them.


But now is the time to take those locks

to the second hand store and to pull the chairs

away from the door and place them at the table,


then pour two cups of water. Say grace.

Let the tiger pace. And always, I pace, too.

Of course, I’m afraid it will hurt me.


That’s what wounded tigers do. And when

the inevitable happens, it’s hard to not wish

it were some other way. And it’s tempting


to lock those doors. But when I do, I quickly

note the lack of light in here, I want

for lavender, I rue how very stale the air.


Rather to die by tiger claw than live cut off from love.

Even now the wounds are raw, but oh, the breeze,

it touches them, and how soft it licks at my chest, my cheek.


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not only the aspen
wear nothing, not only
the sky


the walk, making a path
for the sun


the rose does not try
to re-adhere fallen petals—
still this impulse to fix


in the sky, a door,
in the door, a sky, in the
sky a door

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In less than a minute
the citadel
around the heart
is reduced to sand,
not by the wrecking ball,
not dynamite,
but with the softest voice
speaking the painful truth
of how sad, how broken we are.
In that unlocked moment,
even the air is naked.
It is impossible to imagine
that anything ever came between us,
or that anything ever will again.
But it does come back,
doesn’t it, that thick gray wall.
Sometimes thicker
or taller than before.
Birds come to roost there.
Ivy grows up the face.
Who knows who scrawls
all that graffiti on both sides.
And then, in an instant,
it’s gone again. Nothing but dust.
With the softest voice.
The painful gift. It’s
so messy, so beautiful,
how broken we are.

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Wish List

Not just your eyes,
though that, too,
not just your words,
I want your softness.
I want all the walls
around us down.
I want to stand
out under that big
starry sky and know
nothing except you
and me and big
starry sky. I want
your quiet. I want
your core. And I want
the thoughts under
your tongue, the ones
you keep there
afraid they will hurt
if they come
into the air,
small puffs
of vulnerable clouds,
and then I want
the strength to
be hurt and still
stand with you
there, open
as the field,
as the sky.

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I had a dream I could fly. –Priscilla Ahn

The Blue Angels leave five white tracks overhead.
They are going eight hundred miles per hour,
the announcer says. Below them, I am going

nowhere. They fly closer to each other than my knees
are to the pier. Eighteen inches apart. What to make
of these details. The announcer spills them

through the radio like my brother’s dog
spills the half empty beer beneath the lawn chair.
It seems important, noteworthy, but later,

these points will not touch me the way your hands would.
It is more something to nod at, to say back and forth
to each other, to marvel at aloud. As if it could

bring us closer together, this trading of numbers
and shaking of heads. But the day is warm
and the body can’t help but tremble when the jets push

through the blue above us, displacing sound
and rearranging the air. It is not the speed
that impresses me or even the nearness

of wingtip to nose, but the way that over two million
of us have gathered to watch them fly
in close triangles and peel apart again.

How we long for greatness, how we’re drawn
to the fastest, the loudest, the best. How we long
to come together, to connect. I am not

the best, love. I am tired, getting old. I am
wrinkled and sun-speckled, forgetful and soft.
I am no longer fast, was never the fastest.

I am not strong. I’m defeated. I’m less.
But I am open to love, to being still.
I am ready to drop the stream of facts

and touch (is it possible) what is left.

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Not that the day is special,
though they all are, of course,
in their ordinary ways—how we
wake, say Good morning and kiss—
but today the challenge to move beyond habit,
beyond rote into simple communion
by breaking not bread but ourselves,
our routines, looking up from the paper,
the counter, to say what we mean:
How’d you sleep? Pass the tea.
I am scared. There’s a chill.
More juice? I’m so tired.
Please, don’t leave.

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with Rumi’s quotes from Undressing, trans. Coleman Barks.

I have just pulled out
my best armor and scrubbed
it with Kroger oven cleaner,

the only thing strong enough
in my cupboard to pull out
the metal’s intrinsic shine.

It glitters as I step
into the tall, silver legs,
the breast plate shimmers

in the afternoon sun,
and Rumi walks into the room
and pushes me with his hand.

I fall like a pin, like a tree, like a woman,
and clatter and clang echo
all around the room.

“Learn the alchemy true human beings know,”
Rumi says. “The moment you accept
what troubles you’ve been given,

the door will open.”
I struggle to stand and he tickles me
under the arms where the armor

exposes my skin.
“Joke with torment brought by the friend,”
he says. I stick out my tongue at him.

I clatter and clank and fail to stand.
This time he sits on the wooden floor beside me
and motions for me to be still.

The armor is uncomfortable,
and his fingers so soft as he cradles my face.
“Sorrows are the rags of old clothes

that serve to cover,” he says. “Take them off.”
“But I’m scared,” I tell him.
“I’m under attack.”

He looks at the empty room.
I want to tell him about
the woman who stabbed

at my back today, stabbed
from a hundred miles away. And
the man who would eat me alive.

But the space grows bigger all around us,
inside us, and the armor, it disappears.
It’s as if it the armor were never here.

Nothing left. Not a clang,
not a clunk, not a screw.
I am naked in the open room

with the sunlight reaching through.
And Rumi, he is gone.
No one here but quietude.

And the long, long sword.
And the butcher knife. And a note
in Persian script:

“Welcome difficulty as a familiar comrade,”
Rumi has written, “And PS: That undressing
and the naked body underneath,

that is the sweetness that comes
after grief.” Goosebumps
rise on my naked arms, my belly, my chest.

A breeze goes over my cheek.
I do not reach for the robe
nearby, do not shrink

from the weaponry. I sit.
And doors I never knew were there
swing wide, wide open.

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