Posts Tagged ‘perspective’

Change in Perspective

Everything is made of simple forms,
said the art teacher—
a car, the body, everything.
And for the first time in my life,
I saw myself as an assemblage
of cylinders, spheres, cubes and cones.
It was thrilling, after fifty-three years,
to break down the body this way—
to see my fingers as stems,
my cheekbones as grapes,
my calves as long pinecones.
And for a moment, it all seemed so simple.
I am a constellation of forms that moves
through a larger constellation of forms.
For a moment, I didn’t think of the shapelessness
of ashes that conform to the cube of a box.
For a moment, I knew that wetness
falling from my eyes as just another sphere.

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Grand Scale

Today I am grateful to remember I’m small—
a woman who lives in a deep river canyon
surrounded by fourteen-thousand foot peaks
in state the size of New Zealand
in the fourth largest country on Earth
on the fifth largest planet in our solar system
which has a radius of three billion miles
in a galaxy one hundred thousand light years in diameter
in an observable universe of ninety-three billion light years.
I sit at the end of the deep river canyon
and look at my two cupped hands.
What I can carry is so small.
What carries me is so great.
I offer it my grief.
For a moment, I am weightless.

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inspired by “The Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh and the piano composition by Kayleen Asbo by the same name

Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough.
―George Washington Carver

You teach us how to meet the night,
the quiet shadowed pools of night,
the night outside the glow of home,
the night beyond the sleep-warm bed.

You teach us how to fall in love with night,
the violet night, deep fields of night,
the swirling, churning curves of night,
the whirling, sweeping waves of night—

and oh the stars in their spiraling
you share their gold and pink and green,
a twinkling, a burst of shine,
a firmament in which to dream—

but there’s no way to see stars
if you don’t first befriend the dark.
You teach us how to love the dark,
the verdant, fertile wholesome dark.

Oh, to love what frightens us—
to meet dark with curiousness,
Though it’s mighty, tumultuous,
you teach us the dark is generous.

Vincent, you didn’t paint your asylum’s window bars.
You showed us only night. And stars.


My dear friend composer/pianist/historian Kayleen Asbo and I want to offer you the video recording of our hour-long conversation about Vincent Van Gogh, loss and The Art of Creative Collaboration– click here.This project has been such an important part for each of us in holding on to hope and beauty during a dark and challenging time. If it speaks to a part of your own aching soul and you want to share it, you have our blessing to forward it to whomever you wish.

If you want to offer a donation in support of our work so that we can professionally record our project in both audio and video format, click here for our Go Fund Me account. And we have an anonymous donor who will match all funds donated before July 30! 

If you want to engage in the full collaboration–Vincent’s paintings, Kayleen’s music, and my poems–I hope you will join us in “Love Letters to Vincent” on July 29, the day Vincent died, at 11 a.m. mountain time. We will present the entire collaboration, sending love letters back in time to honor this man who changed the way we see beauty. There will also be a chance to participate in a group creative activity, responding to his work, creating a giant love letter for Vincent. Sliding scale. It will be recorded and sent to all who register.

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In the corner of the window,
slumps an old gray cobweb.
No longer gossamer,
it holds the spring pollen
in its dull clumpen strands.
At the edge of the web,
a long dead mayfly trembles
in the wind, its abdomen bent,
legs broken and detached,
its wings more cloud, less shine.
There is so much of me
that is dusty and damaged,
so much I would like to clear away.
So much that is spent and dead.
My friend tells me all she can see
is beauty. Though I can’t find it here,
there is at least beauty in the looking
for beauty, beauty in the invitation
to see the world with a lens as open as friendship,
to see myself with eyes as generous as love.

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Who is this woman so concerned with arrivals?

Doesn’t she know we are writing about paths?

What is her rush to get to the meadow?

What does she think she will find there?

She missed the sunflowers in the garden,

a whole row of luscious bright yellow bloom.

She missed the chatter of the chipmunk,

the hot scent of rabbit brush almost like sage,

the mica glistening like crushed starlight beneath her feet.

She is like one of those trucks on the highway,

a blur, a roar, an impersonal thundering.

Oh, see, now that she thinks she’s arrived somewhere,

now she starts noticing the field,

the crunch of dry grass, the dirt, her own short shadow.

Funny, she looks lost, standing there with her pen and paper,

her longing to find something worthwhile to say.

Should we tell her it’s okay,

that the lack of arrival could be her new point A?

And everywhere she looks, a new path.

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It smacks me, sometimes,

how connected we are—

though we draw boundaries,

build walls, fight wars,

call names, and kill. All it takes

is a photo of earth from space

and I’m stunned again,

how much we are in this together.

And though we’d rather not know it,

every choice we make

affects everyone, everything else.

Perhaps this is why I weep

when the woman I’ve barely met

embroiders me a sweater

with a word she knows I’ll love

and then brings it to my home.  

Because it’s proof of kindness,

a confirmation that beauty

not only exists, it will lead us to each other.

How easily two strangers

might become friends.

It can happen anywhere

on this small blue and green planet—

anywhere two people co-exist,

the invitation to be generous,

thoughtful, to think of new ways

to be good to each other.

Each kindness a bridge that spans

the world’s flaws. Each moment,

another chance to build another bridge.

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And when fear comes to the door bringing flowers

acting as if it’s a friend,

it’s okay to not want to let it in.

It’s okay to lock the door—

it’ll make you feel as if you’re doing something.

Fear will enter anyway.

At least it won’t expect a hug.

It won’t wash its hands,

not even when you ask nicely.

And it is more contagious than any virus—

spreads without sneezes or coughs.

It won’t leave when you ask, but

there are ways to make it quieter—

like inviting a few others to join you,

preferably gratitude, compassion, love,

kindness, vulnerability. These friends

always come when asked, wearing

the loveliest perfume. They change

the conversation, the way lemon

and honey change the bitter tea.

They remind you who you are,

invite you to look out the window

and see how beautiful the world

when the shadows are long.

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And once again the invitation

to see beyond the self—

the way water knows itself

not only as river and lake

but also as fern, as cloud, as cat.

Forgive me for believing

I end with this skin, these ideas,

these imaginings. Sometimes

I forget to choose vastness,

forget to know the self

as cliff, as maitake, as crumb.

How is it I so often miss the invitation?

How is it I overlook that I

am lemon, asteroid, wren?

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lost in this meadow

deep in the grass

so easy to think

there is no path—


ask the mice

ask the stars

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it was never meant to last,

this life, though we tell ourselves

we’re different, though we tell

ourselves we matter. But the planet

is patient. And the sky is older than that.

The bones in the exhibit hall are proof.


Still, as I drive the seven hours to home,

I am careful to stay in my lane,

careful to miss the dead lump of what once

was a bird, to use my turn signal,

to wave thanks at the truck driver

who let me into the flow.


It may not go on forever, but

for now there is this chance

to learn about communion.

There is this chance

to see just how generous

we can be with these drying bones.

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