Posts Tagged ‘quietude’

The willows beside the river

are practicing how to let go—

they lose the bright red hue

of their skin and their leaves

turn brittle and brown.

It would be easy to think

they were dead if all I did

was pass them by. But

bend one willow, and it’s clear

how alive they still are,

flexible and sincere.

How little rest I allow myself.

I insist on my own evergreen.

How much could I learn

from November’s willows

that take a break from living?

I listen, as if the willows

might offer a teaching.

I listen until it dawns in me,

that the quiet

is the teaching.

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I want to linger at the side of the road

where the dark birds sing into the eddies of dawn,

yes linger in the low-angled light, in the big-hearted shadow

that blankets this bend in the canyon. Though I have many

miles to drive before I arrive, let me stay here

a while beside the river, still for a willowy moment, the water

the only thing moving. How many landscapes do I pass

without meeting them? How many worlds do I miss

as I rush from one here to the next? Oh bless this

quiet, where there is no hum of highway, no rumble,

no center line, no blur. Why do I so seldom linger,

my bones full of rush and current. In this moment,

I remember how deeply I love the stillness of rocks

that haven’t moved for a thousand years, the calm

of the dirt that has nowhere, nowhere to go.

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Arriving at the starting line

I think of the marathon to come—

somewhere there’s a man


with a gun and a timer.

Somewhere there’s another line

I hope to cross.


Somewhere there’s a woman

who doesn’t know there is a race.

She knows only that the juncos


have come, and if she is still enough

she can see their white tail feathers

flashing in flight.

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Sorrow happens, hardship happens, the hell with it, who never knew the price of happiness, will not be happy.
—Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Just as the splinters
slip in a bit deeper
beneath the bruise, just

as the clench in my
chest clenches tighter,
just as the tap roots

of ache push lower
into my groin and tease
new depths of darkness,

it occurs to me, soft
as sheepskin, weightless
as being swung off my feet,

how lucky it is to love, and though
the roots still reach
their terrible reach,

and the splinters slip in,
oh please, not so deep,
there is a strange

joy that blooms
in my cheeks
like cherry stain,

like joy.

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