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Posts Tagged ‘self talk’

Still to Come

There will be a time when I will sit quietly

on the chair and feel no urgency to rise, to rush.

Won’t feel the crush of the unfinished list,

won’t feel late, overdue, behind. I may not

even know the time, won’t fear the tick of the clock

as an adversary. Perhaps I’ll even close my eyes

and lean back and let my limbs soften

like honey warmed in the sun.

An idea might come, but I’ll not try to capture it.

This isn’t laziness, no part of me will think so.

No, I’ll revel in the slowness, the unhurried day.

And I’ll remember, perhaps, a time when the ticking

felt like a bomb inside me. Where did it go,

I might wonder, as I pour myself another cup of tea,

the scent of bergamot citrusy and bright.

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IMG_3560

 

 

Tonight I can laugh at the part of me

who thinks she should know

the right thing to do, the right thing to say.

 

Meanwhile, the rest of me

wakes up each morning in wonder,

marveling at the quickly changing world.

 

Every morning this second self practices

how to bathe, how to dress. Even now she is practicing

how to write a poem, how to make breakfast,

 

what to say to her friends, family, herself.

She knows there are so many ways to do it right.

Every moment contains invitations

 

she’s never noticed before. Sometimes

she practices saying nothing at all.

If you see her lingering beside the road,

 

it is because she is practicing how to walk

how to see. She used to know, of course,

but now she can’t seem to take anything

 

for granted, how to drink tea,

how to walk into a room, it’s all new,

how to weep, how to smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The broccoli was a disappointment this year—

planted from seed, it had finally begun to sport

small knobby green heads when the frost came.

And though the broccoli didn’t die, it stalled.

Perhaps I fear I am like this broccoli—destined

to grow but never to fruit. Perhaps this is why

I feel such urgency, this need to write faster,

heal quicker, mature sooner, love more. Because

what if the freeze comes? What if I die before

doing what I have come here to do?

 

There is a part of me who is patient. A part of me

who says, Sweet One, you could not possibly be

any more you than you are right now. She tells me,

You are exactly enough. And sometimes I believe her.

But sometimes I roll my eyes at her and tell myself,

Hurry up, hurry up. I know myself as barren stalk.

I try to will my own ripening. Not once has it worked,

not once, and still this strange drive:

go faster, do it better, do it now.

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Things are gonna get brighter.

            —”Ooh Child,” The Five Stairsteps

 

 

In the photo, the girl is smiling.

I know all she is hiding.

 

If I could talk to her now,

I wouldn’t tell her much.

 

Wouldn’t warn her about

which boys will break her heart.

 

Wouldn’t tell her which jobs to avoid,

which years will last decades,

 

which friends will lie, which

day she should pay close attention.

 

But I would tell her that Nina Simone

was right when she covered The Five Stairsteps.

 

That things will be brighter.

The young me wouldn’t believe it, of course.

 

Because the healing hasn’t happened yet,

she has stopped believing it’s possible.

 

I might could slip that song into her

cassette mix. Even if she didn’t believe the lyrics,

 

she’d sing along. That’s the way she is.

And the words would land

 

in the branches of her heart

like the truest lyrics do. And build a nest there.

 

And when she lost her voice,

and when it got dark,

 

they would sing to her about the brightening.

Yeah, they would sing. They would sing.

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Two Chairs

 

I pull out two chairs. One for me.

One for the girl who didn’t want

to become a woman. The girl

who, at night, would use tweezers

to pull out any hairs that tried to grow

where her skin had always been smooth.

The girl who tied a bandana around

the small lumps of her breasts

to keep them from growing.

The girl who wanted to believe

she could stay a girl. I know

she would rather be outside

by the lake, fishing. Or exploring

the woods, looking for treasures.

Or making potions out of bark and grass

and berries in her mom’s old silver pot.

But she sits here with me, awkward,

slouching a little to pretend she isn’t so tall.

She tells me she wants to be a poet. How she

loves to play with words. How she knows

the other kids tease her behind her back.

How she sometimes thinks she might disappear

into light when the sun streaks through the clouds.

I just listen and nod. I know exactly how she feels.

I know she won’t believe me if I tell her

she’ll lose the battle with the hair.

That the bandana trick worked, perhaps too well.

That the joy she finds in writing will never leave her.

That she’ll forget the names of the kids

who teased her, but she’ll always remember

what they said. And despite all these tethers,

she’ll learn to disappear into the light,

to give herself completely to the world.

It will be so beautiful.

But for now, this reluctance,

this longing to remain a girl,

this certainty that there is magic

here in childhood that she never wants to lose.

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It is not so bad to be lost.

Being lost only rankles when you’re sure

you are heading somewhere.

But once you’ve been lost long enough,

you stop believing in arrivals.

When you are lost, you can walk

in any direction, toward that mountain,

for instance, without worrying

you should be walking toward work.

You can smell the frying of peppers and onions

in oil and be led by your nose.

When you’re lost and don’t feel any need

to find a way, every path leads you

exactly where you need to go.

 

You think it’s so important to have direction,

to follow the steps to a goal.

I can tell you feel a bit sorry for me,

poor lost soul, And then with a look

at your watch, off you go to your next place

to be. You gaze lands down the road,

your foot urging the gas. But if you went slower,

what would you see? And if you didn’t know

how the path goes, where else, where else

might you go? Who else might you be?

And I, I will wander, perhaps, among

the chamisa and sage. Who knows

what might happen next?

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It’s not like the toaster

keeps secrets. Everyone

knows that all it does

is add heat for a short

duration. But that’s

all it takes to turn

something stale

into something

somehow sweeter

and warmer and

oddly much

more itself.

Heat. For a bit. That’s all.

And even knowing

this, I let the stale

parts of me stay

stale. I know from experience

that that the heat

will come whether

I choose it or not.

Though sometimes it

will burn down the house

just to toast one slice.

Better to take things

into my own hands.

Sometimes, I take

my own advice.

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Self Talk

 

 

 

Even after I turn off the radio

there is a red voice below my gut

that repeats, “You should be very afraid.”

 

Out the passenger window

I see three elk bedded down

in the snow beneath a spruce,

 

and then I am past them,

looking up valley at the mountains

where the wind blows the snow

 

in long white curls off the peaks.

I want to return, I think,

to a different chapter—

 

but I don’t believe it.

There are no fewer opportunities

now to fall in love,

 

and there are a whole lot more

chances to be of service.

I tell myself I was born

 

for exactly this life—

born to see the frosted cottonwood trees

on the valley floor

 

flood with the low light of morning,

born to meet the fear in my gut

and carry it with me to do brave and beautiful things.

 

 

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not once
did I think of you
okay, once

*

Because the brain
works in frames
I tell myself
I will not think
about the railroad stake
you pounded in the wall.
Oh. Too late.

*

Relax, relax,
I tell myself. lalalala
lalalalalalalala
I can’t hear you,
says my inner Rottweiler.

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A Little Self Talk on a Snowy Evening

You are surely lost.
When is the last time
you knew the way home?
Was it back at that gas station
where you bought the chips
before you pulled out into the night?
Though even then the snow
was hurling its white fists into your lights.
But that was before your heart started
leaping like a startled deer into the
oncoming lane of your throat.
Oh darling, who are you kidding.
You were already lost even then.
Sure you could have pointed
to a dot on the map and said,
Exit 179, Here I am. But that
is just the game we play.
Something to satisfy our jumpy brains.
You have been lost since the day
you first could say your name,
the moment you knew yourself
as other, as separate, as something
that could be lost. Sometimes,
like now, when you think you
don’t know where you are,
see if you can lose a little more.
Your certainty. Your words. Your ideas.
Your shame. And maybe then,
off the map, out of hope, exposed
and unknowing, maybe that
is home.

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