Posts Tagged ‘remembering’

Teach us to sit still.
            —T.S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday, Part 6”

How soon I seem to have forgotten
how to be still, how to not plan,
how to step out into the day
and let the world itself write
the story of how a morning becomes
an afternoon becomes a night
becomes a woman.
How soon I seem to have forgotten
the value of not doing,
the gift of unscheduling,
the blessing of dipping my toes into the stream
of no time, then wading in full body,
where I remember I am part of an infinite story
at the same time I relearn how fragile it is,
this life.
How soon I forgot I could change it all.
Even now, I could be still again.
I could choose silence.
Even now.

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Tonight, it comes back, how we’d go for walks
in the tall dry grass behind the old school.
In my memory, the field goes on and on and
it never rains and we have no idea how young
we are. Sun-drunk and heat-starved, twin ripples
of wind. Broken grass in our hair and howl
in our skin. And we believed in forever then—

perhaps we touched it those summer days,
a strand of forever, forgotten for decades,
lost amongst other eternal strands—but oh,
those hands, those parted lips, that tall, trembling grass.

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The glass vase on the table
remembers when it was sand—
remembers its molecules
of silicon dioxide, remembers
what it was like to be singular grains
transported by wind. It remembers
the heat it took to melt,
to lose its crystalline structure.
How intense it is to transform.
It is no small thing to know clarity.
It is no small thing to lose
what we thought we knew of the self,
to submit to a process that changes us
forever. This woman sitting beside
the glass vase on the table
cannot remember when she was dust,
but she remembers those nights
of falling with no one to catch her.
She remembers those days
when she begged the world to open her.
She remembers losing what she thought
she knew and how it was replaced
with the most beautiful nothing—
even now she is changing in ways
she could never predict. Even now
she feels herself melting.

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In the bottom of my bottom drawer,

my swimming suit hides beneath t-shirts

and mini skirts, all of them wrinkled.

The bikini top strings are untied—

they snake around the dark space

like the sprouted eyes of potatoes.

All this waiting. Somewhere there is light.

The shape of the suit remembers

what it is like to hold things in

and keep things up. It remembers

the way the ocean waves tugged at its knots,

the gritty insistence of sand.

Outside, it is snowing again—

snow on the buds of the lilac tree,

snow on the first green of parsley.

Inside, there is this woman

who has stuffed things into dark corners.

I have nearly forgotten what it is

to be warm, warm enough

to wear next to nothing, warm enough

not to cover my heart with layer

after heavy layer. I am learning

how what is forgotten doesn’t really

go away. The shape of me

remembers how to pull my arms

through the water, how to tread

to stay on top. Outside, the sound

of the plow scrapes past. I am wondering

what else might be in that bottom drawer.

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for Lian Canty’s Alphabet Menagerie, a V poem

If you forget why it’s good to be patient,
consider the Venus fly trap.
And ask the velociraptor
if you forget why it pays to run fast.

If you ever forget death’s a blessing,
ask the vulture who sits on the wire.
And if you forget how fast things change
ask volcanoes what they know of fire.

And vanilla, it will give you a taste
if you forget it’s a gift to be plain.
The viper can help you remember
to respect anything that has fangs.

If you forget aging is sweet,
ask the vineyard about harvest time.
If you forget aging is painful,
the Victrola can tell you sometime.

If you forget that every touch matters,
ask the violin how it makes sound.
If you forget how to love the darkness
ask the vole why he lives underground.

There is no shame in forgetting.
It’s a matter of gracious surrender
and learning to ask the world to help us
(even if we don’t want to) remember.

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all day as I walk
I practice the art
of forgetting—
which means all day I remember
what I wish to forget


that rock
I’ve been carrying—
every time I put it down
I find it again
in my other pocket


these thoughts
wear the strangest shoes—
no heel, no toe,
trying to track them
I see they go both ways at once


caught in a tunnel
with a fire at both ends—
now would be
a perfect time
to learn to dig


in the end
there is no rock, no shoes,
no tunnel no fire—
there is only the art
of loving the one who remembers

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