Posts Tagged ‘present’

And here is the miracle—
to find in grief not only sorrow
but a ravenous gratefulness for life,
to find in loss not only emptiness
but an unimaginable abundance.
It doesn’t happen in a day,
no, not even in a year,
but who said miracles
need be instantaneous.

Today I skied through a veil of trees
and forgot for a moment
anything but trees, but skis, but lungs.
I want to tell you in that moment,
there was no one to remember,
there was no one to look ahead,
there was no one except the human
who knew to place the next ski in front
of the other, knew to trust
the ragged saw of her breath,
knew that life is only as beautiful
as death.

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Another part of me turns left,
and it is fifteen years ago
and I am driving to my parents’ new home
and my son and I will spend the night with them
because they live there and we can.
By the time I turn onto the highway toward home
it is fifteen years ago
and my father is sitting in his favorite chair
and my son curls into his lap
and dad tells him his ears are his mouth
and they laugh
and my mother and I make tea and chat.
And I am almost to the stoplight in Ridgway
when it is fifteen years ago,
and we go outside and make a fire in the pit
and sit in a half circle and sing camp songs
and snuggle because we are there.
And when I get home, an hour later,
it is fifteen years ago
and I am so full of their presence
and roasted marshmallows and
joy and loss that I lift my son
into his crib and kiss my father
on the cheek that is now ashes
and hug my mother now far away
then walk into the house
where my son no longer lives
and I have never been
so here.

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Late Summer

            for Vivian and Christie

This lyric afternoon with its fruit trees
and friendship and barest kiss of rain,
is it so wrong to want to save it, the way
I will process the dark plums into jam?
Is it so wrong to want to preserve
the honeyed song of summer, the warmth
of sun, the pleasure of an afternoon
with my daughter and a friend?
An ovation of thunder.
Scent of basil. Purr of cat.
The creamy fuzz of the growing quince.
The joy as we try for the first time
black apricots, their skin so surprising,
their flesh so nectar-ish. I will freeze
most of the ripe blackberries we gathered,
will savor them come snow, come cold.
A day such as this is like yeast in wheat dough—
it’s not there just for taste, it’s the difference
between bread and a brick.
It invites a trust there will be other days
filled with elation. Dig in, it seems to say.
Don’t save for later what can only be lived today.
Even the disbelief that a day could be so good—
that too, tastes so nourishing, so sweet.

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Off the Clock

I want to wake with no sense of what a minute is—
no watch on my hand, no dial on the wall,
no method to measure this life into units of should.
I want to lean into the spell of sunlight like orchids on the sill.
I want to be a question only the moment can answer,
want bergamot to tell me it’s time for tea.
And if there is a pressing yes, then let it find me.
Let me feel into the field of my upper back—
how spacious it becomes when I act with integrity.
Let me be rhythm of shadow and birdsong
let me be rising wind. Let me be time itself,
not the arrow of time, but the infinite sea
and the sand that slips and the silence that swells
in the absence of tick tick tick. I want to wake
to no hands but yours and mine. To be born into the day.
No was. No will. No once. No when.
No deadline. No finish line. No wrong date. No too late.
No too late. Not even a little too late. It would never be too late.

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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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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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