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Posts Tagged ‘self image’

Forty years later, my brother and I

go to the Jewel to buy evaporated milk

and egg nog, and part of me doubts

I will remember the way that we scoured

the produce aisle for green beans. Then again,

who could say why I remember

with incredible clarity the moments

when I was ten and we had just finished

the great turkey feast and my brother and I,

as we loved to do, asked to be excused,

but instead of leaving the dining room,

we simply lay on the floor beneath the table

with our feet up on our chairs

and conversed with each other

there across the green and white shag.

I don’t recall what we said or what we wore,

and it was no important moment, but

I remember the feel of it:

I knew we were together in this—

this moment, this family, this life,

so much so that forty years later

the memory of these ten minutes

is as real to me as the scent of the pumpkin pie

my sister-in-law baked tonight.

How is it that such a short snippet of time

defines us? How it comes to be

the moment we return to again and again

to remind ourselves who we are,

who we love, and why we are here—

those moments, stolen, and still

they give us back ourselves. Even now

in the produce aisle of Jewel, I can feel it—

the carpet against my cheek, can smell

the cranberry salad, can hear my grandfather

and grandmother laughing over our heads,

my brother’s eyes widening, mischievous, so alive.

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I’m the one who will whoop

amidst polite applause.

I give standing ovations

to the petunias most mornings.

I clap for kingfishers,

otter and moose just

because they are there.

I cheer for sunflowers,

red amanita mushrooms,

the snake making it off the road.

I praise the bell pepper, the squash,

the robin, the owl.

I celebrate the moonless night

and the dark inside the shell.

It’s my talent to find beauty,

to honor, to acclaim.

I revel in petal, pinecone, fall.

May I never lose my enthusiasm,

though it means I’m not edgy,

predictable, a fool.

May I always fall in love with the world

and applaud it: river rock, larkspur,

lichen, hail.

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The field is full of sweet clover.

This is the truest line I can write.

There was a time when,

with discriminating precision,

I cleared this field of sweet clover,

preferring only rushes and grass.

Now, after a rain-rich spring

and a sweltering summer,

the deep field is startlingly aglow

with millions of tiny yellow flowers.

The field full of sweet clover is beautiful.

This is an opinion.

A woman can think what she wants to think.

Sometimes her thoughts think her.

Beautiful. Not beautiful.

This argument stretches

past the open field.

Sweet clover has a taproot

is difficult to pull up when the earth is dry.

This is a fact.

In a woman, there are ten thousand

tap-rooted lies about how she looks

and who she is. If she pulls one up,

and even a bit of the lie remains,

it comes back twice as vigorous.

The field is full of sweet clover.

There is something so comforting

about knowing it is true,

so comforting I say it again.

The field is full of sweet clover.

There are thousands of honeybees.

The field is full of sweet clover.

I look into it like a mirror.

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Misunderstanding

The two bull elk in the yard startled
when I walked out the front door.
They stared at me as I stared at them.
Though I stepped quiet and slow
in a different direction, they turned and ran
into the trees. How could they be
so frightened of me? Ah, of course.
Perhaps I am the one who does not
understand my power.

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Today it’s the bread
that reminds me
how human I am—
how I want people
to like the bread
that I baked, how I hope
they can taste
the organic grain
that I ground myself
for the pleasure
of grinding it, sure,
how I can get the texture
just the way I like it,
but also for some small
way it makes me feel
as if I am a better person
because I have ground
the flour. Oh it is
so tricky, the way
I start to believe
that if the people I love
like the bread I bake
that they will like me more.
As if rye and winter wheat
have anything to do
with who I am.
But I do not despise
the bread for this. Its taste
is the taste of harvest,
sunshine and rain,
patience and earth.
The bread wants nothing
and nourishes despite.
Nor do I despise myself
for the longing to be loved.
Well, not much.
So human, I tell myself
to think we’re not enough.
Of course we’re enough,
Of course. Just as we are.
Still, I can’t help but wonder
if I made the butter, too,
well, then they might really,
really love me.

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