Posts Tagged ‘paying attention’

Ode to the Sigh

Smallest of songs,
you give voice
to the breath,
a wordless expression
of sorrow or happiness.
You seem to say,
Yes, that’s how it is,
a quiet doorway
that leads to acceptance.
You soften. You smooth.
You signal a feeling
that’s moving through.
You change silence
the way moonlight
changes a room—
so slightly, and yet
from the edge of perception,
you say to me,
pay attention.

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No French hens, but
the Stellar’s jays arrived
at the feeder as always
in a squawk of bright blue,
inquisitive, cocking
their crested heads
and letting their dark eyes
take in everything.
Everything, no matter
how dingy, how small, is worthy
of their attention,
even the black seed, even
the wind, even the bark,
even this woman standing
in the snow, listening.

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Wash the apple. Quarter the apple.

Seed and thinly slice the apple.

A whole morning can pass this way—

holding the apples, slicing them through,

making small v’s in the quarters

to remove the seeds.

And how many times in four hours

do I notice how perfectly the apple

fits in the palm of one hand—

as if it were made to be held.

How seldom did I dance

beyond efficiency to notice

how the skin resists the knife,

but the flesh is so sweet, so willing.

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Today I woke in the dark and was busy

making lunches during the sunrise,

though surely it happened. And I drove


in the low morning light along

the San Miguel River for half an hour,

not once noticing the color of the water,


the scent on the banks, though past

experience leads me to believe

that there were thousands, millions,


of tiny beautiful miracles happening

there in that half hour alone. How much

beauty is lost on me every day, every moment?


Though as I stepped out of the car

to walk into work, I saw, stuck to my boot, one

brilliant orange aspen leaf outlined in gold,


and for a whole minute, I stared at it,

marveled at its symmetrical veins,

its delicate stem, the astonishing intricacy


of its edges. How easily gloriousness finds us, sticks

to us even. How wholly available, this art

of meeting the glittering, luminous world.

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Not until the darkness came

did I hear the river, the insistent


clear of it. All the bright day

I had listened to the ding


of the timer, the ring of the phone,

the whine of the boy and the sob


of the girl, the scrabble of kittens,

the turn of engines, the click


of my shoes, the printer’s gray hum.

And then, once the dishes were done


and the boy was asleep and

the girl was asleep and the phone


was off and the lights

were out and I lay in the patient


dark, I heard it, the changing flush

of the river’s rush, which surely


had been there all day, the river

doing what a river does—moving


over whatever stands in its path

and turning each obstacle into song.

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staring at the moon

until it becomes a door

I walk through

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Everything’s a gong now—

the clang of the spoon in the mixing bowl,

the growl of the water rushing in the pipes,

the ding of the microwave’s timer,

the crow—

what isn’t an invitation to show up,

to offer the moment all our attention—

scent of pizza, barking dog, lawn mower,

sweet rose tea, that voice in my head,

the chime of the changing light.


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it’s not that I’ve never

seen a walking stick,

more that I’ve never noticed

I’ve seen a walking stick—

this rising urge to watch you

tie your shoes, hold a pen,

light a fire.

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did it just start to
sing, that brown bird, or did I
just start to listen?


a night of fretting,
but the day comes in with a


that letter so much
more precious now that I
have lost it


once I took all the
books off the shelves, God arrived
with a blank page


the leaf just
a leaf


no pillow tonight!
the poem just grabbed a drum
and crooked its finger


but I don’t know how
to fly, I said, and God said,
start by falling


still cupped in my hands
this song hummed to me
seven years ago

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