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Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Shabbat

for Peter and Lisa

 

 

We covered our eyes with our hands

and repeated the sacred words that Peter said,

blessing the pomegranate juice, blessing

 

the challah bread. And when we were done

with the prayer, we removed our hands

from our eyes and the candlelit world

 

was surprisingly bright. Such a simple faith,

kindness. The willingness to invite another in,

to make them bread, to offer them soup,

 

to say to the other, Here. Feast. Rest. To share

ancient stories and offer new wisdom.

To pass the braided bread, hand to hand,

 

and eat it together. To listen to each other

until the candles had burned through all their wax.

To continue to listen after the light goes out.

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Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

            —Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

 

I put off breakfast for hours,

hoping it will allow more time

for impossible thoughts to come.

 

They trickle in: World peace.

Inner peace. Healing.

Pure love. An abundance

 

of unrestricted hours.

Then, stymied,  I put off lunch.

Put off snack. Just before dinner

 

I meet a sixth impossible thought:

accepting the world the way it is,

falling in love anyway.

 

Who wants to believe in that?

But acceptance shines

through the window like a full moon,

 

as if it’s the only thing that makes sense.

Eventually, the night is so bright

anything seems possible.

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As the Chemo Begins

 

 

 

Most of her hair was gone already,

but I guided the electric razor across her scalp,

brown tufts falling into my fingers.

 

We listened to music, drank wine,

toasted to vulnerability. She made jokes

about not needing to buy shampoo.

 

I sang along with the songs we had chosen—

choked on the lyrics to “Life is Wonderful,”

hummed when I couldn’t sing.

 

There are days when wonderful

is so far from what we might have chosen,

but wonderful it was, my hands

 

smoothing across the new naked landscape

of her head, delighting in the feel of the fuzz,

marveling at the gift of sharing loss and fear.

 

There are days when we lean into each other

and cry. And such a terrible wonderful it is,

letting the tears come. Weeping them together.

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Tomorrow the World

 

Title from “Starting with Little Things” by William Stafford

 

 

Meet the world as jellyfish do,

evolving toward clarity,

straddling the balance

of what can and can’t be seen.

Know when to contract,

when to expand—to be efficient

and full of grace.

 

Become a bell that rings

only silence. A dance

that knows only pulse.

In the dark, be able

to be the light. In the light

learn to bloom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let yourself be danced.

            —Augusta Kantra

 

 

The poem sits down to be written.

Instead, it stares at the bay.

There’s a highway in the distance

that could take it all the way to California.

The poem doesn’t want to go to California.

It wants to be present, just here,

on the sandy bank beside the driftwood.

It wants to find its inner poem.

It wants to get out of its own way,

to obey its emerging form.

Instead, it watches the tall grass

getting danced by the wind.

It sighs. The poem wants to know

what it doesn’t know yet.

And the poem wants to be good.

Dammit. It tries to lower its standards,

then judges, compares and tries to fix itself.

It lists. It sits cross legged till its legs

fall asleep. It is a book of sorrows,

a tree of anxiety, a wave of failure.

It’s a cage of empty lines. How

did it get into this straight jacket?

The poem gives up. It stares at the bay.

Watches the grasses sway. Notices

how the wind blows its hair,

lifts its hands. The poem doesn’t know

why it’s weeping. In that moment,

the poem is danced.

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Who Am I?

 

 

I thought I wanted

a harmonium of answers,

a key of certainty,

a hymn of how to,

but silence gave me

the most beautiful gift—

one true question.

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Inner Locating

 

 

Close to the waves,

I hear only waves.

Close to the cars,

I hear cars.

Come closer,

says the silence.

Come closer,

says the heart.

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One Simultaneous

 

 

 

driving white knuckled

in the blizzard, meanwhile

a white camellia blooms

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The pelican dives

into the water,

rises again. Hovers.

Dives. Rises.

Each time, the water is quick

to forget the intrusion

loses its ripples,

stills. A thought

is a kind of a pelican.

A woman is a kind

of a bay. The pelicans

will always dive.

The bay will always

return to stillness.

A woman might

learn to live this way.

 

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Perhaps a Chance

 

 

It’s not that way with all things. Some that go are gone.

            —A.R. Ammons, “Eyesight”

 

 

And so it is that

even after the candle flame

is gone, yes, after

the flame is gone,

the carbon and unburned

wax vapor in the smoke

will still combust when touched

by a match, will travel down

the smoke and reignite

the wick. It sounds

like magic—looks like it,

too, a small ball of flame

dropping bright through the air.

So tonight when

my friend sends me

a video of just such

a marvel, I play it

again and again.

And all the burned out

wicks in me stand up

just a little bit straighter

and I stare at them

to notice if there is

still any smoke, and

my god, if I don’t just

run to the drawer

and find me

a box of matches,

their sticks brittle,

their tips as red

as hope.

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