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Ars Poetica

All these years of wandering,

toward what? On a blank page,

where are the secrets hidden?

How many mysterious paths?

If there is a truth, perhaps it, too, is blank.

If there is way, perhaps it, too, is wandering.

Sometimes I just want the answer.

Always it comes back to this:

An orbit. A spiral. A mobius trip.

A boundary curve where the question

is its own topology, where the question

is its own astonishing arrival.

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            for Jude Janett

 

 

All day, I replay these words:

Is this the path of love?

I think of them as I rise, as

I wake my children, as I wash dishes,

as I drive too close behind the slow

blue Subaru, Is this the path of love?

Think of them as I stand in line

at the grocery store,

think of them as I sit on the couch

with my daughter. Amazing how

quickly six words become compass,

the new lens through which to see myself

in the world. I notice what the question is not.

Not, “Is this right?” Not,

“Is this wrong?” It just longs to know

how the action of existence

links us to the path to love.

And is it this? Is it this? All day,

I let myself be led by the question.

All day I let myself not be too certain

of the answer. Is it this? I ask as I

argue with my son. Is it this? I ask

as I wait for the next word to come.

 

 

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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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Part of me wants to give you

the book of answers, the solution key,

to help you know which decision, A, B, C or D,

will bring the most healing, the most happiness.

I no longer believe in such a book, such a key.

 

Instead I wish for you the peace

that comes only with surrender—

a word that sounds beyond reason

until it becomes beacon, becomes

north star, becomes map.

 

May you know for certain

that in every case, you are beloved.

May you know beyond doubt

that no matter what happens,

you always become more essential, more you.

 

 

 

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The spam email was simple. Subject: Why?

Body: Answer me. And I thought of Einstein,

who wrote a brief letter to Miss Marion Block,

a woman who had written first to him,

overcome as she was by two world wars.

 

He wrote: The question “Why” in the human sphere

is easy to answer: to create satisfaction

for ourselves and for other people.

 

Almost 800 years earlier,

Rumi answered the same question, saying,

Oh soul, you worry too much.

 

I, too, like Miss Block, like the spammer,

like the soul, I, too, have stood beneath the stars

and asked Why, Why?

And this week, I received in the mail

a typed letter signed from The Universe,

saying, You know this, but may have forgotten:

you have been given a special task

to complete on Earth … the world needs you.

 

And the words from The Universe

leap from the page to form new constellations

inside me and I see so clearly

that I am one of many, many stars,

no longer capable of thinking I’m in this for myself,

certain that we shine for each other.

 

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Inquiry

 

 

How has pride helped your family?

That is a question I’ve never asked.

Nor How do you treat yourself

 

when you think “I must give others choices?”

And suddenly it occurs to me

that I always ask the same questions.

 

How was your day? and Peanut butter

sandwich or bagel with cream cheese?

I have been thinking of new questions today.

 

What do you have to teach me?

Earth, what do you want? and

Where do I begin? But these are still

 

questions I can think of. I want to learn

new questions, questions I don’t yet know to ask.

Questions that scare me. Questions that make me

 

weep just hearing them. Questions

I know I will spend a lifetime

learning how to answer

 

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in the dark

you lose track

of any lines

that say

you are here

and the night

holds you

like a lover

with hands

somehow

everywhere,

and the stars

keep thousands

of secrets

and sometimes

they spill,

and if you have

a question,

it comes to meet you

whether or not

you’ve dared

to ask it.

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Across the yard, below

the cliffs, and just beneath the evening’s

drift toward darkening, above

the river, through the trees,

there is, if you are lucky,

a slender moment charmed

by chance when, if you look up,

the great blue heron

will angle past on slanting wing

and make you question

everything.

 

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I make in my heart a nest for the questions,

ask them to stay, and at the same time

post a sign that says

answers only—

no wonder they fly away.

 

 

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Sentenced

 

 

 

By the time you wake,

the day is already a question.

Whatever declaration there was

in your dreams has already

curled itself into a question mark.

No matter how you wrestle

with the punctuation—try,

perhaps, to straighten it

into an exclamation or crumple it

into a period—regardless, the day

insists on being interrogative.

And why shouldn’t it

insist on being a curve

like a river bed,

like a nautilus,

like a naked breast

beneath the ultrasound—

nature despises a straight line.

Now what matters

is what always matters—

how will you meet the day?

 

 

 

 

 

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