Posts Tagged ‘purpose’

This is why we are here—
not merely to survive
but to fall in love
with the white-breasted hawk
and the rainbow fish,
with the lonely sidewalk
and the shadows of ourselves,
fall in love with the hands
of the woman wearing yellow
and the girl who loves chocolate
and the boy who loves cars
and the man who makes us want to be
a better version of ourself.

We are here to fall into unmanageable love—
to love beyond reason, beyond
fact, beyond certainty. We are here
to lose all our ideas about love
and know it as the next choice
we make, the next word
we say, the next invitation
we offer ourselves.

We are here to love
the world and each other
the way whales love water,
the way blue loves a peacock,
the way night blooming jasmine
loves night.

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Bound by Natalie Seabolt

Today, Rattle.com featured my poem, “Seeking Purpose,” which I wrote in response to Natalie Seabolt’s beautiful image, “Bound,” as the Editor’s Choice for their Ekphrastic Challenge! I love this practice of writing poems for images–this one explores our purpose, and how it might be nice for the world to give us just a little clue about what that might be. You can download a broadside of the poem and image right there on Rattle’s page.

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Hundreds of smooth red stones—

we gathered them that summer

and spent days carefully laying them out

into a wide and winding red path.

It had no real starting point, no destination.

We tucked white daisies between the rocks.

We said it was for the fairies.

I wouldn’t have said it then, in fact,

I hesitate today to say we didn’t believe in them.

They gave us so much purpose.

Even now, I’m following that path.

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Sleep, of course. Long,

uninterrupted hours of sleep.

For a week. For a month.

For a year. You’d just put your head

on the pillow, and sleep

would come meet you

like a devoted friend, or like

a dog that will come whenever you call,

and snuggle with you all night.


And then, when you woke,

I would give you the certainty

that life is worth waking for,

that you are beloved,

that everything you do

makes a difference, and

by everything, I mean everything.



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In April, the Harvard

Department of Physics

issued a study suggesting

the universe will end the way

it began, with a bang. in fact,

they say, there’s likely a bubble

of true vacuum “barreling

toward us at the speed of light.”

The moment we see the bubble

will barely precede the moment

it destroys us.


And still, despite their findings,

I rise every morning in the dark

and make my children lunches.

Evenly spreading the butter

onto my daughter’s bread.

Slicing the cheese thin as hope,

just the way my son likes it.

As if making their lunches

really matters in these moments

before our demise.

Yes, I select the firmest apples.

Toast the walnuts

with maple syrup and salt

so they sing in the mouth,

both savory and sweet.

As if they will eat the food

and taste love. As if

they’re important, these

things that we do.

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There is clarity in the three-hole punch,

the way it is made to receive the paper,

always the same every time.


How it punches the holes always

equidistant from each other. It never worries

it’s not doing its job good enough. Never


worries it isn’t worthy of the pages it meets.

There is clarity in the way it flexes beneath

the hand, how it does the one thing it was made


to do. And you, with your hand on the black

length of it, you with your thousands of choices

inside every moment, what is it that needs


your precision? Maybe you’re making it

too hard. Maybe it’s your turn to do

the one thing you were made to do.




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From Dust



So busy cleaning the cottage

I forget I am here

to enjoy these quiet rooms


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Nothing More Wonderful, Really

Usually for a man. Or a woman. A someone else.

You get the feeling you could fast for a year.

Or run Everest. Barefoot. With a hundred pound pack.

In a blizzard. Uphill. Both ways. And the rest of the world

would sigh, and say, “Ah, love. Makes people crazy.”

And though there would be a lot of head shaking

and tongue clicking, the world would be jealous.

But sometimes it happens that you get the feeling

you might just do the craziest thing, not really for anyone else,

not really for you, either, in fact, you do it for no reason

at all except that it rises in you that this is The Thing To Do—

sure, run up a mountain. Or swim the Atlantic.

Or crawl the Sahara. Or even, imagine it,

dare to wake up and drink coffee, then walk

out the door to the car like the unlikely hero you are,

drive the speed limit down the highway to the office, where

you do whatever you do and give it everything

you have, crazy as it seems. Oh the stapler! The paperwork!

The phone calls one after the other! The sun on your face

when you step out the door. Oh yeah, the people

of the world will be shaking their heads, thinking,

“Dang, that is crazy,” but they will also be wondering

as you walk down the street as if the world is walking with you,

“Wow, how do I get me just a little bit of that?”

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How soon I forget

the reason I walked into this room.

It is not hard

to walk back to where I was

moments before

and usually I remember.

Sometimes I forget

the reason I am here,

and I do not know where

to go back to, wherever

we came from,

to retrieve the purpose,

though sometimes

when I sit very still

it arrives, not as an answer,

not as a word, more

as a sense that I am being breathed

and that I have not

travelled so far,

that whatever I have come here for

is right here.

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In a snowstorm, the yaks know to huddle together,
calves in the center. They press the bulk of their bodies so close
to each other that their breath forms a column of visible steam.

Elsewhere, in burrowed colonies, the yellow jackets
work in concert to forage for food, to feed the larvae,
to expand the nest and defend the queen.

It’s hardwired in us, this will to survive. Just look
at the yucca with its cascade of lemony petals
surrounded by tough, sword-shaped leaves.

Just look at you. Just look at me. See how we
like to hide behind our identities—lover,
loner, baker, runner, singer, prayer, biker, child.

As if we could use the list of our interests
and roles as a shield against our greatest fear—
the fear that we don’t know what we are doing here.

So we shout to each other like yodelers—here I am,
this is me, who are you? And we hold up invisible yardsticks
to ourselves, to each other, in an effort to learn our value.

And our egos rise and fall like yoyos in the hands
of a child who’s just learning to play. We think we’re someone.
We fear that we’re not. And what are we doing here anyway?

Is this why some choose solitude? Choose to live
beyond the shoulds and masks? Live like the yeti—
unknowable, unseeable, known only by stories and tracks?

Today, the hummingbirds are gone, and the waterfall is thin
in its plunge. The hours are warm though the sun is low—
and I can’t say that I know what we’re doing here,

but I think it has something to do with noticing the missing birds
and the thin waterfall and the timber in your voice when you tell me
you don’t know who you are. Me neither, friend, but whatever I am

fell in love with the way that the first morning sun today glanced
the frosted grass, and I could see dozens of columns of steam rise across
the whole field before the yellow jackets emerged from their nest.

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