Posts Tagged ‘pain’


After years,
what once
was enormous,
sharp and piercing
now is rounded,
fits like a marble
in the palm
of my hand.
This is what comes
from touching it,
brushing up against it,
holding it
again and again.
And again.
Once, it cut me.
Now, as I rub it
beneath my fingers,
it soothes me,
reminds me
how I, too,
have been softened,
how I, too,
have been embraced
and held
and nestled
until I am smooth.

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I went in
expecting a miracle.

I wanted to be healed
when I walked out the door.

Instead, the doctor
told me there was nothing

he could do. Told me
the problem. Told me

the solution. Long and
painful. And then

he said he could help me.
I left feeling hopeless.

Frustrated. Spent. And still
in so much pain.

I went in expecting a miracle.
I think that’s what

he gave you,
my friend later said.

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Still Life

The earth itself is a magnet.
Surely I knew this once,
but reading it today,
it was as if I had never known this before.
How many things have I forgotten?
And learned again only to forget again?
So many stains of emptiness.
Is it wrong to not think this is a bad thing?
This morning I woke with a now familiar pain.
Someday perhaps I will forget
these months of ache, the throb
that makes itself known whenever I am still.
Will I also forget the surprise today, was it thrill,
when I recognized each throb in my leg
as the beating of my heart.

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In the dirt crawl space
under the yellow house
my brother and I
would play among dad’s jars—
dozens of jars
filled with clear greenish liquid,
all of them holding
dead white fish,
their colors
long since faded.
Every black-capped container
was labeled with typewritten
lettering, but we could not yet read.
Mostly we stared
at their clouded scales,
their pale fins,
their useless eyes.
We did not question
why they were there,
stacked beside the winter coats
and boxes of dishes we seldom used.
Dad finally threw them away
when we moved,
though he did not want to let them go.
He cared about those fish in jars.
Not the bodies themselves,
I suppose. Perhaps
because he had been
so alive with the catching
and naming of them.
Perhaps because
there are so many things
that cannot be caught
nor labeled nor set aside.
Like the pain that
even then was beginning
to reach for his joints, grabbing
his shoulders, hips and knees.
Like his father’s anger
that he always carried—
something pale, many scaled,
something vital that died.

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She said it to me in her kitchen, she said it,
the water rushing from the tap into the pot
for tea, she said, You know what people do,
she said, we hurt each other. She said it
with no snarl on her tongue, her face lit
by the sun spilling in through her window.
Her shoulders were soft, though her eyes
were ablaze. She said it as if she were saying,
It’s Tuesday. Or, The salt shaker’s empty.
Or any other careless fact that has no ability
to shatter a world. I did not want to believe
her, but as she spoke the words, I knew them
as glass, and I swallowed them whole and they
cut every surface they touched. I tasted in my throat
not just my own blood, but yours.

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If I Needed You

Would you come for me and ease my pain? –Townes Van Zandt

And if you say,
shall I kiss it,
then I shall say
yes, please, and
lead your lips
to the paper cut
on my right ring
finger. And if you
say, shall I kiss
it, I shall say
yes, please, and lead
your lips to the hollow
in my back where
the wings would be,
the place where
sometimes I collapse
and the pain shoots
into my wrist, my neck.
There’d be a whole trail
then for kissing.
The pain, it’s elusive,
it shifts every day.
And if you say,
shall I kiss it, I shall
say yes, and guide your
lips to my jaw
tight from clenching.
And if you say shall I
then I shall say please,
though the places
that hurt the most,
they are ones
that defy the word
here. But here, I shall say,
and here, I shall say.
And here. Please. And here.

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All objects in existence are wildly in love.
—Meister Eckhart

Always, they claw at the world.
They can’t help it. They were given
two pincers and hard, hard shells.

They ripen into harder shells,
their clasp become more powerful.
They hurt more the larger they are.

This does not look to me like love.
I think of Eckhart’s saying as I stand beside the pond.
But my boy, he holds them in his open palm,

lets them pinch his thumb, his eyes
widen in pain, and he gently extracts them,
throws them back. And does it again.

This, now this looks like love, I think,
watching the water for the skitter,
the settling, the mirror of the pond as it stills.

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