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Like Tonight

After wrapping the present,

mom would pull ribbon from a roll

and wrap it around the gift.

She’d tie a knot at the top,

then ask for my finger

to hold the ribbon in place

while she fashioned the double knot.

Eventually I learned what Mom knew—

it’s not hard to tie a ribbon alone.

Still, the loan of a finger is lovely.

Lovelier still, partnership.

This is what you do for me.

Though you’re far away,

sometimes when I find myself trying

to, oh, wrap things up,

I feel, perhaps, an invisible hand

reaching in to help where I most need it.

How much easier the work is then,

such a gift, to meet the present together.

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playing tug of war—

my future

my past

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Temple

It’s not because anything special happened.

Though I’ve sat in silence in desert canyons

and climbed iron rungs on overhanging cliffs

and sung in cathedrals and sung in snow caves

and hiked naked through juniper and

washed dishes in inner city shelters

and wandered the cobblestones of ancient villages,

today, sitting on the couch in my own house,

I finally understood with my whole body

how life puts us in the places we need to grow.

And so I made tea. And sat a while longer

with the windows open, listening to my longing

as it wove with the sound of the sprinklers and the oven fan

and I said to the moment, what do you ask of me?

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I’m now going to dazzle myself with the pluperfect.

            —Jack Ridl

 

 

And isn’t it dazzling, the notion

that an action not only began in the past,

 

but was finished in the past, or,

as they say in Latin, it was perfect.

 

Not like these leaves, that began

in the past as green flags, but now

 

transform into gold flame. And we all know

what happens next. No, not like

 

the boy who once fit in my lap

and now looks me in the eye.

 

Not like the dream I had for my life

that changed before it could

 

be achieved. What really ends?

What do our cells not remember?

 

Even the dead are here in this room,

on the streets, in cafes. We carry

 

our history with us everywhere

we go, and it wriggles out of its

 

perfect cage and dances through the ending,

though we thought we’d shut the curtain,

 

though the director has long since yelled “cut,”

though the audience has already left,

 

see, here it is, even now, progressive

and as present as these cut sunflowers,

 

spilling their pollen all over the table,

hardening their seeds into future gold.

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Sometimes in spring

I forget it is ever

not spring, forget

that there will be a time

without hummingbirds

and the raucous call

of the geese. These lilacs

and their purple scent

are forever. Forever

is this deep green field.

I almost resent

the voice that writes this poem,

the part that notices how already

the apples have gone

from ecstatic white bloom

to small hard fruit.

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Radical Abundance

 

 

 

Every branch

of the raspberry bush bows

with the weight of sweetness

and our busy hands

pull the ripe berries

to our mouths.

It is a long time

before we remember

we have bowls,

we have tomorrow.

 

 

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Spontaneous

 

 

 

hulling strawberries

for the freezer I think of

how many sweetnesses

are put off till later—

 

that ripest berry,

it is delicious, red stain

on my hands, my lips

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One Saturation

 

 

soused with joy—

unable to remember any myth

that didn’t end happily

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This Very Here

And then came the day
when I knew to stop asking
to be anywhere else,
when somehow I no longer
believed any other garden
was better than this one,
when I wanted only
these weeds and this field.
There will come a day,
I am sure, when I forget.
But today, oh the freedom
of being utterly tethered
to this very here with no
other dream, no plan
for other plots, just
a song on my lips
that I sometimes know how
to sing and sometimes
have to hush to hear
how it goes.

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What was it under the tree
I was hoping for—perhaps
forgiveness, not the kind
you can tie up with a bow,
no, rather the kind
you don’t even know is there,
except you notice you can’t
stop laughing and everything,
even the awkward scale
you carry in your breath,
even that seems luminous,
some small, amusing scrap
of heaven.

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