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

Because it is dark
I walk in the dark,
walk with no moon,
walk with the chill
of the measureless dark.
There is peace that comes
from letting the self
be with the world
as it is, and tonight,
it’s a dark world,
a world where I cannot see
far ahead, a world
of silhouette and suggestion,
a world that seems
to cherish whispers
and relish mystery,
a world where
the invitation is
to walk in the dark
without wishing it away,
without championing its opposite,
the invitation is
to be one who learns
how to live with the dark.

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This moment is not
the citrus burst
of ripe blood oranges
nor bitter dark
of Ceylon tea
nor warm whiskey
of long, slow kisses—
instead it tastes
of the must of loss,
the salt of what was,
the sharp young wine
of words not yet said,
and there,
dancing on the tip
of the willing tongue
the yeasty, springy crumb
of truth.

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And could I, like this picture frame
hold any image I was given?
I think of the news last night—
how I would rather not hold
what I saw there.
I think of what I learned just yesterday
about myself and notice how
I would rather push the image away.
But could I be like this picture frame
that will hold anything and in so doing
honor its importance? Honor
everything, no matter how mundane,
no matter how frightening,
as something worth knowing,
something essential to what it means to be alive,
a soup can, perhaps, a petunia, or a scream.
How easily the frame says yes to the world,
takes it in, anything, with no judgement,
and offers it whatever beauty it has.

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for my children, for all children



I want to give you the kind of day we didn’t have today—

a day when the wide blue sky makes you rush outside,

when we go to the park and meet your friends

and you run to greet them—you hug and play chase

and tag and tackle and whisper in each other’s ears.

I want to give you a day warmed through by laughter,

with crisp green leaves already on the trees.

And on our way home we could stop for ice cream

and joke with the women at the counter

about how there’s not much news to share.

A day when you can’t imagine being afraid. When

you fall asleep not wondering when someone we know

will die. Instead, the world gives us this day—

this day with its fears and its warnings—and

I give you what I can: A scarf to play dress up in.

A homemade pumpkin pie. Dance party in the kitchen.

Three tired and perfect words. Open arms.

A reminder the sleet will make the grass green.

Secrets I will keep for now to myself. The slow tide

of my breath beside you as you fall asleep.

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Hey buddy, he says, as he opens his trench coat,

you wanna buy an epiphany? And there,

in the satiny lining he reveals a flashy display.

Oooh, I say, those look lovely. I could use

an epiphany or three. What is the meaning of life,

of course. The secret of happiness. And how to not care

what others think. This one, he says, I can give you

half price. It is covered in diamonds and bling.

Something less showy? I suggest. Ah yes,

he says, Good taste. Perhaps this. It’s leather. He sees

I am interested. And I’ll throw in this other for free,

never mind where I got it. I stare at the third epiphany.

Big, I say. Yeah, he agrees, try carrying it around in your coat.

The epiphany looks vaguely familiar. In fact, I’m pretty sure

he stole it from me. And a storm breaks loose

in my mind. Um, no thanks, I say, and walk away.


The whole way home, the world offers itself

to me: A spruce tree does nothing but

be a spruce tree. A stone is a stone.

A crow flies above me. I marvel at its wings.

A bluebird sits on the fence and sings.

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Again the urge

to bring gauze

to the broken world—

and medicine

and a plaster cast.

Again the urge

to fix things,

to heal them,

to make them right.

Again the chance

to do the work,

which is to look in,

to touch the pain

but not become it,

to see the world

exactly as it is

and still write it

a love letter,

to meet what is cracked

with clarity,

to mirror and grow

whatever beauty

we find.




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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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