Posts Tagged ‘questions’

The Empty Dark

Answers don’t arrive if you’re afraid of sitting in the empty dark room of not knowing by yourself long enough for them to arrive on their own schedule. 

—Michael Thelen

Oh let me, too, be willing to sit in the empty dark

and let the darkness enter me.

Let me not pretend to know how it will be.

Let me lose my plans, though it terrifies me.

Let me not imagine any better time

to practice than now.

Let me be the bowl that sings when touched,

the bowl that is content with its own stillness.

If I want answers, let me sit with my longing.

If I want lessons, let me find them right here.

And if it is dark, let me not run from the dark,

but lean into it. And if it is light,

let me long for the light. Let it enter me.

Let me not pretend to know how it will be.

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The rules are simple. One person chooses

an ornament on the tree. The others ask

yes/no questions until they guess it correctly.

It was my mother who taught me.

I taught my own children. It’s a ritual

as important as the tree itself. Is it red?

Is it round? Is it cloth? Handmade?


So many questions we never can answer.

So many questions elude yes or no. But here,

in the soft glow of Christmas tree lights,

we share moments when every question

leads us closer to a treasure, where

the moments are treasures themselves.




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I ask the night

teach me to ask bigger questions

it replies

perhaps you could

take the pen away

from the one who wants

to ask questions

and then let her come

walk in the night

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After many, many hours in the car,

through spring blizzards and shine,

over passes and through tunnels,

we have conversed about loneliness

and loss, isolation and struggle,

we’ve found laughter inside

awkwardnesses and cried

for reasons we don’t understand

and we have solved nothing

of the world’s problems, nor our own,

but in this last hour, a lovely

silence joins us in the car,

all those unanswered questions

somehow content to look out the window

and admire with us the white rumps of elk

and the mountains newly covered

with snow, so much already

growing beneath the white.


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Just today my son asked

if birds were mammals.

No, I said, without looking up.

Then are they reptiles, he said,

and I thought no, but then

I thought maybe, and then I said,

I don’t know. Turns out some

classify yes and others say no.

There are so many ways

to see the world.

I think of scaly feet and believe

the crocodile and heron

could be cousins.

I think of intersections.

It’s not a surprise

humans arrive at different answers,

what surprises me is how

there are questions I no longer ask.

Like the nature of a bird.

Like the nature of love.

How many other questions

are gathering dust or are waiting

to be found?

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I have never had an eight ball do me right.
—Rob Wasserman

I ask it,
Will it be easier tomorrow?
It says,
Ask Later.
I ask later. Will it be easier tomorrow?
It says,
Don’t Ask.
Oh, I say. Should I just go away?
It says,
Looks Good.
What is that supposed to mean? I say.
It says,
Try again.
Oh. Okay. Will it be easier tomorrow?
Can’t Tell, says the eight ball.
I guess I’ll have to wait and see, I say.
In the small blue window, it says,
I Say Yes

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long after we arrive
still the question
are we there yet?

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No Questions Asked

The gate did not ask
if I needed to find
a way out.
It simply appeared
two steps before
the dead end.

The thorns did not ask
if I wanted to pick
the red flowers.
They just lined every branch
of the leafless bush.

The closed sign
did not ask if I wanted
to enter. The lock
did not care I did not
have a key.

The match did not ask
if I were kindling.
Its red tip disappearing,
your name written
in kerosene
on my heart.

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