Posts Tagged ‘protection’




Sometimes defensiveness

has lovely side effects. A tree,

for instance, produces resin to heal

a wound caused by insects or fungi.

Golden and aromatic,

the sticky ooze protects the tree

from disease and injury

and eventually might transform

into amber.

But that takes millions of years.

And happens only after damage is done.


Another choice, I tell myself,

another choice is to do

what the peony bud does—

create nectar for ants

so they will invade it, and then,

using genuine sweetness

to make friends,

accepting the protection they offer.

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What I Can Do

If an arrow would do it,

I’d shoot not just one

but a dozen bright arrows

through anything, anything

that makes you feel small.

If an arrow would do it,

I’d practice each day

until I could aim at your fears

and shatter them, spear them,

pierce them through.

Oh love, if an arrow would do it,

I’d slay all your doubts.

I would buy the finest bow.

How useless it feels

to offer you tenderness,

but here is the hand

that would pull back the string,

and here are the eyes

that would find the mark,

and here is the heart

that would do anything

to save you.

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with Rumi’s quotes from Undressing, trans. Coleman Barks.

I have just pulled out
my best armor and scrubbed
it with Kroger oven cleaner,

the only thing strong enough
in my cupboard to pull out
the metal’s intrinsic shine.

It glitters as I step
into the tall, silver legs,
the breast plate shimmers

in the afternoon sun,
and Rumi walks into the room
and pushes me with his hand.

I fall like a pin, like a tree, like a woman,
and clatter and clang echo
all around the room.

“Learn the alchemy true human beings know,”
Rumi says. “The moment you accept
what troubles you’ve been given,

the door will open.”
I struggle to stand and he tickles me
under the arms where the armor

exposes my skin.
“Joke with torment brought by the friend,”
he says. I stick out my tongue at him.

I clatter and clank and fail to stand.
This time he sits on the wooden floor beside me
and motions for me to be still.

The armor is uncomfortable,
and his fingers so soft as he cradles my face.
“Sorrows are the rags of old clothes

that serve to cover,” he says. “Take them off.”
“But I’m scared,” I tell him.
“I’m under attack.”

He looks at the empty room.
I want to tell him about
the woman who stabbed

at my back today, stabbed
from a hundred miles away. And
the man who would eat me alive.

But the space grows bigger all around us,
inside us, and the armor, it disappears.
It’s as if it the armor were never here.

Nothing left. Not a clang,
not a clunk, not a screw.
I am naked in the open room

with the sunlight reaching through.
And Rumi, he is gone.
No one here but quietude.

And the long, long sword.
And the butcher knife. And a note
in Persian script:

“Welcome difficulty as a familiar comrade,”
Rumi has written, “And PS: That undressing
and the naked body underneath,

that is the sweetness that comes
after grief.” Goosebumps
rise on my naked arms, my belly, my chest.

A breeze goes over my cheek.
I do not reach for the robe
nearby, do not shrink

from the weaponry. I sit.
And doors I never knew were there
swing wide, wide open.

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