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Posts Tagged ‘poem’

 

 

 

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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Perhaps that is when Thanksgiving

matters most—when you

walk the empty street alone,

scarred and scared and unsure.

That’s when giving thanks

becomes less of an abstract and more

like the way to take a next breath—

something that seems elusive, but

in fact it’s essential, and it’s right there,

just waiting for you to meet it,

to open yourself, to let it in.

Yes, for now it feels worthy of thanks

that the air is cool and clean and feels

good in the lungs, and the feet know

to walk you closer toward yourself

and the day holds you, holds you

in its soft gray arms, throws

a carpet of dry leaves at your feet,

suggests you keep walking into your life.

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Forty years later, my brother and I

go to the Jewel to buy evaporated milk

and egg nog, and part of me doubts

I will remember the way that we scoured

the produce aisle for green beans. Then again,

who could say why I remember

with incredible clarity the moments

when I was ten and we had just finished

the great turkey feast and my brother and I,

as we loved to do, asked to be excused,

but instead of leaving the dining room,

we simply lay on the floor beneath the table

with our feet up on our chairs

and conversed with each other

there across the green and white shag.

I don’t recall what we said or what we wore,

and it was no important moment, but

I remember the feel of it:

I knew we were together in this—

this moment, this family, this life,

so much so that forty years later

the memory of these ten minutes

is as real to me as the scent of the pumpkin pie

my sister-in-law baked tonight.

How is it that such a short snippet of time

defines us? How it comes to be

the moment we return to again and again

to remind ourselves who we are,

who we love, and why we are here—

those moments, stolen, and still

they give us back ourselves. Even now

in the produce aisle of Jewel, I can feel it—

the carpet against my cheek, can smell

the cranberry salad, can hear my grandfather

and grandmother laughing over our heads,

my brother’s eyes widening, mischievous, so alive.

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One Late November

 

 

beside the great lake

holding hands with the sun—

every step a thanksgiving

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Because we are traveling,

I say, We’re on the plane.

I say, Just landed. I say, See you soon.

 

As always, my heart leans beyond

the transactional. Longs to say,

Tell me about the pain. Longs

 

to say, I feel lonely. Longs to ask,

What do I most need to know?

But it’s not easy to hear. And

 

there isn’t much time. Is that

just the same old excuse?

And so I say, I love you,

 

because it is true. Say,

Can’t wait to see you.

Say, Gotta go. All through

 

the flight, the heart keeps leaning,

rehearses the five

most important words:

 

tell me all about it.

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Someday I’ll prefer to sit, to sit

and breathe and think or not think

and sit. But now, now when

the high mountains sing with snow

and the snowcat has groomed

a path through the nowhere of spruce

and the sky is a winnowing blue

that makes me unknow my name,

yes, now is the moment to slip deeper

into the self of myself

and snap skis on my feet

and let the day slap a smile on my face

that I could not possibly unsmile,

because for now, there is

this burn in the lungs, this wind

in the face, this spilling of laughter,

this joy in stride and push and glide,

this thrill in losing the breath.

 

 

 

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I did it. Exactly as she said.

I removed everything

from my closets and drawers,

and touched each thing—

every sock, every shirt, every shoe—

and I asked them, “Do you bring me joy?”

 

Joy, it turns out, wears many clothes.

She likes scarves. Wide necklines.

Black pants. She loves long knit dresses

and tall leather boots. She needs

lots of sweaters and many gardening gloves.

 

And all the while I did it,

I did as she said, I visualized

the life I want,

which is apparently a life

in which my closet is full of black pants

and scarves and tall leather boots—

a life in which I talk to my clothes

and smile as they whisper back to me,

Joy, Joy, Joy.

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after The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai

 

In this sea, the great rogue wave is always

about to crash, and the fishermen

in their long thin boats

slip themselves forever in its path—

and though it hangs above them

with hundreds of frothing claws,

and though they cower atop their boats,

they’ve yet to be cast off into the sea—

and the moment is forever charged

with an anticipation larger than

the highest mountain, caught in curiosity—

how will it be to be devoured?

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Someone has crocheted a half dozen blankets—

one dark purple, another camo green, another

with stripes in every possible color.

There are half a dozen quilts with bright squares.

And someone has knit a dozen hats—

and a basket on the shelf overflows with handmade scarves.

 

My friend chooses a pink cotton pillow

that someone has sewn in the shape of a heart

and a long creamy scarf, impossibly soft.

She would rather be anywhere but here,

but look at that smile as she dons the scarf,

as if its stitches are keeping her from falling away.

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Drinking Assam Tea

 

 

Malty, bright and voluptuous,

the tea meets me this morning,

and though I’m alone, the kitchen

 

is filled with other hands—the

potter’s, for instance, that threw

and trimmed and pulled and glazed

 

this favorite mug into mugness.

And the hands of the harvesters

in India who gathered the fresh green leaves

 

of the second flush, then

spread them on a tray and left them

to dry in the sun. And who rolled the leaves?

 

And who gathered them after they aged?

I wrap both hands around the mug

and inhale the musky scent of tea

 

and marvel at how much humanity

went into this simple cup. I stare

at my knuckles, my fingers, my palms.

 

It’s your turn, I tell them.

Serve the world well. Can you make something

so bold, so strong?

 

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