Posts Tagged ‘self-talk’

Because I can, I carry the box with your ashes
around the house as if you’re a baby on my hip.
I point out things and explain them,
just as I did when you were young and alive.
There, I say, there is where you practiced piano.
Here, I say, is where you sat at the counter
and wept when I told you the story
of Cinderella. And here is the wall
where we hung all your artwork.
And here is the room where you slept.
Here’s the plant you gave me last year—
see how it’s doubled in size?
And here’s the new couch in the place
where the old couch once was,
the one on which we snuggled each morning
before school. I walk the floor as I did
when you were young and fussy and needed
touch and movement to calm you.
Now I am the one who is calmed by the walking.
So familiar, these steps around the kitchen island,
these steps around the table.
So familiar, this weight on my hip.
Soon we will place this small wooden box
in the ground, so while I still can, I carry you.
Oh sweetheart, how is it I’m thriving amidst this gravity?
It is, I am sure, because I, too, am deeply companioned,
carried from moment to moment, from space to space.
And though I don’t hear it, there is perhaps a voice
that says to me, Here is where you lit
a candle every day. Here is where you practiced
to love in new ways. And here is where
you did not judge yourself as you wept.
Here is the place where you did nothing but breathe.
And here is where you thought of all the people
who have carried you.
And here is where you said thank you.

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You are not a pangolin, and yet
here you are, curled in a ball on the couch,
as if tucking into yourself will help keep you safe.
Maybe you wish you had thick scales to protect you,
scales overlapping like artichoke leaves,
scales to shield you from sharp claws or teeth—
but sweet scared self, scales could never save you.
What you’re hiding from is your own raging heart,
feral with loss, savage with pain. Curling in won’t
lock the pain out. And is that what you would want?
It’s so human to wish it didn’t have to hurt.
So animal to want to defend against pain.
So of course, you find yourself in a ball.
Sometimes grief feels like an attack.
But even the pangolin doesn’t stay curled up forever.
And the heart, oh good self, the heart
was made to be vulnerable.

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Starting Place

When all my plans have changed
and changed again, and then again,
I notice the stubborn part of me who
rails against change, who wishes plans
could go as planned. And I judge her—
judge her like I’m a ruler-smacking teacher
who shames children in front of class.
You should be more resilient, I chastise her.
You should know after fifty-some years
you will need to adjust. And these changes
are small stuff. What is wrong with you?
And I feel the animal of myself contract.
If one of my friends were upset about change,
I’d murmur, Oh, darling, that sounds rough.
And with no effort, my voice
would unspool in silken thread.
Could I speak to myself like a darling, a friend?
Darlin’, I start, but it comes out a thick sneer,
and I add, Oh, so you’re gonna fail
compassionate self-talk, too … darlin’?
Begin again. Deep breath. Hey, darling,
are you in there? And I follow the breath
into a softening, my whole body
tuning more open, sincere. Yeah, darling,
my voice is naked now. Change is hard. I’m here.

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