Posts Tagged ‘saying yes to the world as it is’




I thought I could fix it.

Not with a hammer and glue,

but with listening. With loving.

With holding the wounded

in my arms.


I thought I could make

it all better, I mean all of it,

you know, the way a mother

kneels before her child

and kisses his thumb

and miraculously the hurt is gone.


I thought I could make myself

bigger than the world’s problems,

as if with devotion and will

and practice, I could touch

infinity, embody enormity,

step over the inconvenience

of pain.


But came muck. Came tears.

Came anger and shrill and short.

Came small and weak

and tired. Came shame.

Came embarrassment I ever thought

I could be big. Came the surprising


pleasure of muck, the way

I can paint it on my face in wide stripes.

Came the gift of exhaustion.

Only then when I stopped

trying to carry the world, only then

did I notice how generously,

all along, the world

has been holding me,

has been holding us all.


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It’s not so much because

poems make things better—

don’t heal the sick, don’t

stop a war, don’t make the bread

any less stale, don’t bring

people back from the dead.

But poems do have a way

of making me feel more

okay with the world not

being the way I wish it were.

They say yes to the world,

again and again, telling it

like it is. And then,

like a dandelion

already gone to seed,

they wait for the gust

that will strip them bare

until all that’s left

is a hint that once

there was something

lovely here.

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We stand in the field.

I swallow any words

that might try to fix things.

Some things cannot be fixed.

Instead, we say the words

that make us weep.

Grief stands with us then,

and holds us

with absolute tenderness,

its arms impossibly kind.

It starts to rain.

We do not move to leave.

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It’s like keeping a weasel in the freezer,

this wishing things were different than they are.

What could possible change

when what is most playful, most wild

is put on ice? Let your prayer be living weasel,

running weasel, frolicking and tricky weasel,

slinking weasel, leaping weasel, wriggling

ferocious weasel. The more you wish,

the more the temperature

on your wishes drops.

Weasel, weasel, weasel,

weasel, weasel, weasel, pop.

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After hoping and trying

and failing and hoping

and trying and failing

and hoping and trying

and failing the mind

perhaps will finally say

I don’t know what comes next

and, startled by the sweet

clarity of this, the body

raises both arms, though

the mind didn’t tell it to—

yes, the arms rise weightless

and open, as if there is nothing

they aren’t ready to embrace,

as if the world as it is

might come rushing in.


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Sure you’ve delighted in mud before,

slathered it all over your skin

beside the brown currents of the Gunnison

until the only unmuddied parts of you

are your teeth, your tongue, your eyes.


Sure you’ve been baptized before

with gray muck by your best friend

on the edge of the Blue Lakes Road,

her slender hands anointing your forehead

with the color of high mountain shale.


You’ve painted with mud on desert rocks

and rolled in mud with your son,

but that doesn’t mean you want

to get muddy now, not when you’re so clean

and on retreat, not when you’re so so very very


not not muddy. So you skirt messy ruts

and you gingerly side step, you pussy foot,

weaving your way on the spring-puddled road,

but one slip and one oops and you’re in it again, ankle deep,

and what to do now but laugh


and notice how the path expands

when you no longer need to watch

where you’re going—how much more open

the world has become, how available you are

to any step that comes next.


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tall and clear

wholly illumined by sun

slowly I learn to see

the vase as lovely

even without the sunflowers

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“Come on,” I say, “come on,

this is your only chance.”

Every day for a month

I have walked into the garden

to speak to the sunflowers.

I try not to sound too urgent.

I don’t want to scare them,

but it is September and they

are still tall green stalks

with small tight buds.

“Come on,” I say. “There is still

warmth enough for you to bloom.

It’s what you are here to do.”

Just yesterday there was an inch

of hail on the divide. Every day,

it seems less likely that there will

be sunflowers this year. I notice

how much I want them to bloom,

how they have become more to me

than sunflowers in the garden.

What is it in us that wants

to see things flourish, especially

seeds sown by our own hands?

The sunflowers will bloom or they

will not. The moment I relax into this—

saying yes to the world just as it is—

inside me, I feel acres and acres

of golden heads all nodding.

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with gratitude to Christie and Dave for their generous hearts and abundant backyard

The thickets are always thicker than I think,

climbing the branches of nearby trees and snaking

through the grass. And red berries are always greener

than I wish, full of pucker and startling bite.

But the blackest of berries, the duller ones, bulbous,

and days past their shine, they are sweeter than I dream.

Sometimes I imagine the way a thing will be—

invent it as something grander than itself.

But the blackberry, ripened in its woodland bramble,

stains the fingers and sings on the tongue

with all the sweetness late summer can gather

and spends all its pleasure at once. Sometimes

there is no better fantasy than the thing itself—

the thorns an integral part of the story. Sometimes

I wish that the stain would never leave.

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Between the moth wing

and the fire,

between the river

and the road,

between the moon

and what we’re told,

between loss

and a kiss,

there is this sense

that anything

might happen—

a wound, a word,

a wondering,

an opening

to the world

just as it is.

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