Posts Tagged ‘resilience’

She is the one
who sings in her room
and she is the beat drop
the melody, the bass,
she is the soundtrack
that still fills the home
even when she says nothing at all.

And she is the maker
of chocolate desserts
the one who was given
bitterness and met it
with sweetness
and flame.

She is the laughter
that rises in the dark.
She is the flare,
the generous spark.

She’s the dance, the dancer,
the stage, the shuffle flap ball change,
the pink pointe shoe
worn to the wood.
She is sweat and ovation,
she is barre and plié.

And she is the one who went to school
three days after her brother died.
She is raised hand and science lab,
t-ball and sketch pad,
she is one who thrives.

She is monarch and cocoon,
the bright wings, the wind,
she is the summer land.
She is the one who brings beauty with her.
She is story. Plot. The turning page.
The one with the pen
in her hand.

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They don’t like it. For a day,
maybe two, they’ll hang limp
in the beds. I try to talk them
through it, try to tell them
it will be okay. But no one
wants to hear it will be okay
when it feels as if
the world is ending,
especially not nasturtiums—
nasturtiums can’t hear,
which makes me wonder
how much of what I say
to comfort others is really
intended to comfort myself.
In two days, the nasturtiums
will be upright and bright.
And I’ll praise them, tell them
I knew they could do it,
tell them how resilient they are.

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            —with thanks to the wise Rebecca Mullen
Today, again, I praise the beaver
who spends her life building,
rebuilding, rebuilding
her lodge where her young will live.
With small sticks and big sticks
and tall solid trunks,
with logs and rocks and mud,
with her teeth she builds a home,
builds it on moving water.
Because rain, because snow,
because warm, because cold,
because flow, because flow, because flow,
her home is forever in need of repair.
And so on a day when a surprise storm
has flooded the stream
and washed much of my lodge away,
I honor the beaver,
stalwart, resilient, habitual.
I notice the longing to move to land,
then I gather new sticks of courage.
Stones of forgiveness.
Logs of compassion
and the deep sticky mud of love.
I wade to the middle
of the current.
I, like all the other mothers,
I build this home again.

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Today I talk to the broccoli sprouts.

I kneel down beside their bed.

You can do it, I tell them.

I don’t mention that every summer

there is a hail storm that will

puncture and tear their leaves,

that bits of their green will litter the soil.


Though the sprouts are less

than half an inch tall,

the leaves already look tough—

like thick four leaf clover.

The hail, though, will be tougher.


Perhaps I don’t want

to tell myself how tough things will get.

Would rather encourage. Would rather play.

Would rather revel in the day’s sun.

But today, there’s no lying to the self—

the inner hail has already come;

my leaves hang in tatters.

All around me, flower petals

are fallen, scattered.

Out of season, widespread wreckage.


There is an inner knowing, though—

one that needs no one else

to encourage it. It knows to grow,

to grow despite the damage, to grow,

because damage. To grow. It knows

to grow, because that is what we are here to do,

our new leaves coming in to support the old,

to support the whole, every bit as vulnerable,

and green, so green.








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Today I take the courage I don’t feel

and the resilience I doubt and

all my unspent longing to serve,

and I bring them, cupped in my hands,

to the garden. They nestle there in my palms

like three baby birds that have not yet

opened their eyes. I take them to hear

the pungent song of the garlic shoots

and the thriving chives who chant

how to survive the winter.

I bring them to hear the strawberry leaves

who sing how to flourish despite the frost.

and the old song of chicken manure

and composted grass that hum about

how old life begets new life.

And they open their tiny beaks,

as if they could eat the green song.

How vulnerable they are.

So I open to the song, too.

I do what must be done.

I take in the nourishing song,

and feed them with my own mouth.


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Last summer’s grass still stands in the field,

dry and fringe-like. It shushes against my thighs

as I walk. How is it still upright? After the weight

of last year’s snow? How has it not fallen, decayed?


Though I can break the brittle stems in my fingers,

it bends in the wind, more resilient than I could imagine.


What inside me is dead, yet still standing?

What old thoughts, their seeds long gone,

are filling the fields of imagination?


The new grass already is emerging into spring.

Soft. Deep green. Unable to be bent or broken,

its scent sweet and sharp in the nose.


Let me find in me this freshness, this new growth,

this willingness to push up through what’s dead.

Let me roll in it like a dog, till I come up stained green—

green thoughts. Green words. Green wonder.

Green learning what it is to be green.

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What if, tonight, we all went to bed

and thought of our best version of our self.

It wouldn’t be true, of course. Not

in this moment, and not tomorrow.

Not mid-week. Not next week.

Not even next year. But if we could picture it,

it would be a goal we could live toward.


It would be, perhaps, like the garden beds

I prepared today—hoeing in fertilizer,

last year’s grass clippings, leaves.

When I was done, the rows still looked like dirt,

but such fine dirt it was for planting.


I believe in our resilience.

What is best in us is eager to grow,

like the sunflower sprouts

volunteering again this year.

What if tonight, we imagined the roots

of our goodness. What if tonight,

we planted only those seeds.


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Today it is the chives that spur me,

seeing their slender green scapes and leaves

that have pushed up

through the dried clumps

of last year’s version of themselves.


When nothing else in the garden is green,

the chives grow, smooth, bendable, soft,

and yet they have managed to pierce

through the hard spring dirt.

Unwatered. Ignored.


In the aftermath of cold and dark,

they come. And something green in me responds,

pungent and powerful, eager. Ready

to flourish. Ready to meet the world,

though the cold is far from over.


What is it in us that longs to grow

through the previous, dried up versions of ourselves?

It rises, yes, like tiny spears, unstoppable,

bent on thriving, daring us to be

that resilient, that willing, that green.


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Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now. History is happenin’.

            —Lin-Manuel Miranda, “The Schuyler Sisters,” Hamilton


There are days when we know we are lucky—

when we go for a walk and find, beneath dead leaves,

yellow petals. When an envelope brings a surprise check.

When a loved one calls to say they will visit. When

our name is pulled from a hat.

And then there are days our luck is less clear.

When the commercial world as we know it collapses.

When the schools and restaurants and whole towns are closed.

When our paycheck is gone and we can’t pay

next month’s rent. When loved ones lives are threatened.

Yes then, it’s much harder to say we are lucky.

But. Every day, every day for the last week,

every day when I wake, I think to myself,

This, this is the day to make a difference.

This is the day to bring your best self to the world.

This is the day to shine and work and forgive.


Every cell in me is wildly alive. Every moment

feels like a gift. I’m transfixed. Every minute

feels like an invitation to show up more open,

more vulnerable, more brave than I ever dreamed I could be.

And damn, if that isn’t lucky, I don’t know what is.

The morning light, it reaches in,

bathes the whole room in gold.

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Amidst the sirens

and the horns,

tucked in between

the skyscrapers,

we found a garden

with a fountain

at its center

rung with trees

and lush green leaves

and purple hastas—

and there, inside

that sudden peace,

my dad and I

sat side by side

and didn’t solve

a goddammed thing

but listened to

the sound of water

falling, falling,

and watched it

rising up,

rising up again.




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