Posts Tagged ‘patience’


After almost two years
of growing only leaves,
the orchid that sat
on the back windowsill,
the one I have dutifully
watered and whispered to,
the one I had finally
resolved to throw away,
sent up a single spiraling stem,
shiny and darksome green,
and I who have needed
years to hide, to heal,
felt such joy rise in me
at the site of tight buds,
the kind of irrational joy
one feels when something
thought dead is found alive,
not only alive, but on the edge
of exploding into beauty,
and now it doesn’t seem
so foolish after all, does it,
this insistent bent toward hope.

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On a day when the world is weighty,
   dark and dense with need,
       I want to be the earthworm
         that gives itself over to tunneling,
   its every movement an act
     of bringing spaciousness.
       And when minutes feel crushed by urgency,
   I want to meet the world wormlike,
     which is to say grounded,
       consistent, even slow.
   No matter how desperate the situation,
     the worm does not tunnel faster
       nor burrow more.
   It knows it can take decades
     to build fine soil.
       To whatever is compacted,
   the worm offers its good worm work,
     quietly bringing porosity
       to what is trodden,compressed.
   So often, in my rush to repair,
     I end up exhausted.
Let my gift to the world be
  my constancy, a devotion to openness,
     my willingness to be with what is.
       Let my gift to myself be patience
   as I tend what is dense and dark.

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is what you say when pressing
the garlic cloves into the soil in early November:
five inches down, sprout side up.
But no matter how well one plants them—
preferably six inches apart so they don’t compete
for sunlight or water or space—
it will still be a long time
before green shoots come up.

It’s the same thing I say to myself
as I sit by my husband and weep,
as I’ve done nearly every day
for over a year since our son died.
No matter how well one grieves—
whether the heart is cracked asphalt
or a lush peony—
it’s going to take a long time.

A long time, perhaps forever.
I tell myself, Go ahead,
cry when you think of how he used to race
to the car when you’d come home.
As if I could stop myself.
I cry because my body says cry.
Because I remember the shape
of his body crushed into mine.

Because sometimes my heart
is more dead bird than wing.
Because some things we simply live into.
Winter will come and freeze the dirt.
Next spring, there will be green shoots.
Late summer, we will pull thick bulbs from the earth.
We will welcome the taste, sharp and strong.

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There is comfort in knowing
that every year
since the earth was made
there has been
a longest day of the year—
a day when half of all life
wakes to an abundance of light
and then in that moment
of greatness leans again
toward the dark.
There is comfort in knowing
the light comes, the light leaves,
the light comes, the light leaves,
comfort in knowing
all the light that is
reaches toward us,
whether we can see it or not.
It is simply a matter
of staying out of our own way,
and if we can’t do that,
well, that is what patience is for.

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Apricot Wine

for Dave

From this glass of chilled apricot wine,
bottled just days ago,
I drink the long days of summers past,
a potent sweetness that comes
only with time. I drink the memory
of the hands that harvested the fruit,
the memory of patience,
memory of soft rain and deep blue.

If I could bottle this day,
would there be enough sweetness in it
to make a wine I could savor?
Were there enough moments
when I fell in love with the world?
A laugh with a friend, scent of pine needles,
cold shower on hot skin,
and this glass of apricot wine.

Could I learn, as this wine has,
how to let goodness develop,
how to invite the taste of something wonderful
that wasn’t originally here?
In this wine, hints of pineapple, lemon,
plum. By what magic do they appear?
Oh world, teach me that patience.
Teach me to trust in time, to trust
in magic I don’t understand,
to improve with age, like apricot wine.

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The Apology Speaks

How long ago did you forget about me?
I used to bloom in your mind like bindweed,
twisting and lacing through every thought,
but you were too afraid then to say my
two small words. I’m sorry. You wanted
to say them. You meant them. You knew
how much power I have. Even so, you knew
I wasn’t enough. And you knew
I couldn’t be heard in the windstorm
that raged for months. It’s quieter, now,
so quiet I’d think you could hear me knocking
inside your heart. When did you let
the blur of the days obscure me? I’m here,
waiting to be given voice. Though neglected,
I am no less important. Ah, there, I felt you
brush up against a petal, soft as forgiveness,
deep rooted as shame. I’m here, waiting. I’m here.

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One Eventual Path

so long I dreamt of a key—
now it crumbles to dust
this old cage around my heart

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Please don’t tell me what will happen.
I’ve peeked before at the end of a book
and know how one detail learned too soon
can ruin the entire story.
Not that I wish to be patient.
Of course, I want to know what’s coming,
but this story only works in present tense.
Even when it makes me weep,
even when I’d rather put this story down,
even when I’d like to rewrite the last scene,
please, don’t give me even a little hint.
I am not sure I believe in happy endings,
but I believe in turning the page,
in holding the weight of the book in my hands,
and racing through the text,
my eyes eager to discover what comes next.

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While I did not fix
the thing I most
wish to fix, and I
did not do
the most important
thing on my list,
and I did not save
anyone, and I did
not solve the world’s
problems, I did
plant the onion sets
in the garden,
pressed my fingers
into the dry earth,
knew myself as
a thin dry start.
Oh patience, good
self. This slow
and quiet growing,
this, too, is
what you are
here to do.

published in ONE ART: A journal of poetry

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I suspected I shouldn’t

open the oven door

ten minutes before

the timer went off.

Is it a sin if you don’t

know the rule?

The cake looked perfect,

when I checked,

but ten minutes later

the puff of white had fallen,

fallen like Lucifer,

fallen into a dense sponge

from which it would never

again rise. Oh angel food cake,

victim of my impatience,

we ate you anyway,

served you with strawberry fluff,

and you, like a true angel,

stayed sweet. It was no fault

of your own that you fell.

How often am I responsible

for the so called failures

of others? How often

do I, in my excitement,

cause more harm than good?

Praise the fallen angel food cake,

that still, though compact,

offered itself to the birthday.

Praise what is good

that insists on its own goodness,

despite adverse circumstance.

Let me remember

the graceful botch,

the redeemable flop,

the crumb yet moist, so tasty.

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