Posts Tagged ‘self worth’




One day you will forget to question your worthiness.

No matter what door you walk through, even your own,

you will feel no need to apologize,

concede no need to defend.

You’ll set down your big suitcase of hope

and never ever open it again.

It will not matter if you are greeted by others

with kisses or with snarls, no, you will know

your own value the way milkweeds do,

which is to say, not at all.

Common as dandelions.

Complex as supernova.

Your worth will be that natural, that assumed.

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Every morning I walk into the garden,

even when there is little to see—only rows

of tiny sprouts and the earth just beginning to crack.

It is not so much that I speak to the seedlings,

though I do—to the slender green lashes

of carrots and the heart-shaped leaves of beans.

It is more that they speak to me in syllables

I feel through my fingers—speak of resilience

and tenderness, speak of the dark and beautiful

earth. There are so many days when I worry

that I am not doing enough—worry

that I could be more kind, more generous,

more loving, more vocal, more good.

But in the garden, pulling bindweed

and clover and salsify from the mostly empty rows,

all of my brokenness feels less broken.

It is somehow easier to forgive myself

for being who I am. And to mean it.

Easier to know myself as one of many.

Easier to believe that like the potato greens

I have so much more to offer that

can’t yet be seen, but it’s growing,

surely, deep in the darkness, it’s growing.



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Into this poem

I tucked a thousand

butterflies so when

you read it, they

flutter out—bright winged

and brilliant, each

a reminder of the

thousand gifts

you’ve given—

and also, though

it’s not easy to hide it

inside Times New Roman,

there’s a big brown bull,

stubborn and formidable.

He doesn’t care

about all those pretty bugs,

he just wants to get across

the message,

What you do matters.

If you doubt it,

just look at those nostrils,

just look at those horns.



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I want to stand behind your mirror
so that every time you see yourself
I speak for your reflection and say,
“You are beautiful. Every inch
of your body is beautiful,
is exactly the way it should be.
I love your eyes, your hair, your neck,
your arms, I love your shoulders,
the color of your skin. I love
your waist and your hands and
your legs and your every toe.”
I have seen the way you scowl
at yourself, have seen you steal
a look in the mirror and wince
at what you see. I see you,
I see you so clearly, the way
you open your heart to the world
and close it to yourself.
Your beauty has nothing to do
with the clothes that you wear
or the length of your hair or
your height or the number
on the scale. You belong
in this world just as you are—
you are life’s ambassador
building a bridge between you
and all other life, and what
a beautiful job you do.
I see you, I see you. And if I cannot
stand behind your mirror, then
I will nourish the seed in you
that knows with all certainty
how beautiful, how vital,
how essential you are, I will
nourish that seed until it blooms
so fully that never again
will you let any mirror or
anyone else tell you otherwise,
not even yourself. But it
is an inside job—no matter
how much I might suggest
you are beautiful, the conviction
must come from you. See how
beautiful you are even
in how you believe you are not
beautiful? Each day more you
than the day before.

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Your eyes. I used to believe they created me.
One look from you, and I became chalice,
lotus, lioness, crane. Woman. Without your gaze,
I was unformed clay. Your absence, my absence.
It was like some strange twist on what Ptolemy said—
he believed that rays emanate from the eyes,
rays that traverse the air and find the object, allowing
it to be seen. If a woman dances alone in a room,
and you do not see her, is she really dancing?
Does she exist at all?

But Ptolemy was wrong, love, and so was I.
And this is not really the story of photoreceptors
and environmental stimuli. It’s the story
of how we long to be seen—it begins with such
innocence, a longing to please. It’s the story
of how eventually a woman might find herself
dancing for the leaping, whirling pleasure of dancing.

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Like my son’s retainer
relocated, surprise!
in the boat yard’s lost and found
I long to be picked up
and celebrated just because,
ordinary and functional as I am,
oh hooray, I am here.

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