Posts Tagged ‘self’

One Potential

as the self expands
through deep space, deep space expands
to fit in the self

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On Halloween

I wake up as myself, but by 8:15 a.m.,
I am wearing a long black dress and long black gloves,
strings of pearls and my long brown hair piled high.
Once again, I am Holly Golightly, spontaneous and flirty,
eccentric and ambitious. How easily I slip into her world.
How quickly I start calling everyone darling.
How instantly I feel doe-eyed and feminine.
Though I am graying. Though I am no longer reed-like
or innocent. Though in real life I only wear yoga pants
and no one would call me glamorous.
How is it that forty years after I first met her
in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I still fall in love with her?
Confident, yet fragile. Elegant, yet humble.
I balance my long black cigarette holder in my hand
and take a long drag of the fake cigarette—
but it’s life I’m pulling deep into my lungs
getting buzzed on blue sky and white snow.
By noon, I have no idea who I am.
By midnight, though I am in yoga pants again,
the credits have yet to roll.

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There comes a day when a woman knows
she’s more Mother Superior than Maria—
and though she spent decades dreaming
of spinning on stage singing The hills are alive,
she now knows she’s more likely
to be cast standing in a habit, clutching a rosary,
singing Climb every mountain.
How many dreams pass us
before we realize they’ve gone?
Already I know I will never climb Everest,
will not be an Olympic Nordic skier,
will not research the cure for AIDS.
Every day I am less the woman I dreamt I would be
and more the woman I am—
which is, apparently, a woman who sits in the balcony
to see “The Sound of Music” and drives home happy,
still singing about how her heart
wants to beat like the wings of the birds that rise
from the lake to the trees.
A woman who is learning how,
now that her dreams have faded,
she can be more present than ever.

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The whole time I drove the three-hundred thirteen miles
and thirty-five years back in time,
wondering why I was doing it,
I could not have pictured who I would meet:
one friend now career military
and a yoga instructor.
Another who owned a non-toxic sex toy store
and became a therapist.
Another who is sober but sells margaritas in Vegas.
A long-haired man who had a kundalini awakening.
And a long-haired woman who looks exactly like me,
who once lived in this town and took school so seriously
and sang in the choir and acted in plays
and picked up every lucky penny she ever found
and kept them in her shoes
like a portable bank of good fortune.
I was most surprised,
perhaps, to meet her again.
Not that I don’t remember how awkward she was,
how she didn’t fit in. Even tonight,
I watch with amusement
as she stands at the edge of the crowd.
It is easy to be gentle with her,
to love her now in a way I couldn’t
have loved her then.
Perhaps because now I know
being nerdy will save her,
and it will not matter at all in thirty-five years
that she was not invited to parties.
Look at her tonight, laughing with people
who barely spoke to her all those years ago.
Look at her, hugging her friend as he tells her
how he felt so bullied back then and was sure
the whole school was against him.
How little she knew of his world.
How little she knew of her own.
I would like to get to know her better
as I drive with her back home.

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Along the lake and down the hill,
the road dead ended into a meadow
with a wooden fence a girl could slip through,

and slip through she did,
that five-year-old version of me,
slipped through the gaps into the tall green grass

and then wandered to the lake
where the weeping willow hung over the shoreline
and she could sit beneath its shade and disappear—

or perhaps more rightly, she could show up.
As herself. Show up not as a girl who lived up the road
but as shade, as shore, as tree,

as field, as green beyond the fence.
Perhaps it only happened once or twice,
that journey past the dead end,

but forty-seven years later, I remember
the dissolution, how beneath that tree
I was no longer who I was, only more so.

How I knew myself as integral to the miracle.
There were whole decades I forgot her,
that infinite version of me.

Tonight I can tell she never left.
How did she ever fit in my limited sense of self?
What does she have to teach me now

of fences, of shadows,
of sitting quietly,
of the art of slipping through?

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There comes a time when
the life you have
meets the life you once had
and you stare at that old life
as if it’s a beautiful bird
with a haunting song so familiar
you can’t stop yourself
from singing along.
Isn’t it strange
how quickly things change,
how already you’ve forgotten
some of the words.
How already, your wings
have changed color.

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Meeting Grief Again

I was wrong, grief,
when I said you had become me,
integral as bone.

It is true you are woven
through the fibers
of every moment.

It is true, you have taken up
residence here, like a cat
that sleeps in my bed.

It is true you have brought
the most beautiful,
unwelcome gifts—

silver songs that emerge
from keening—songs that crawl
before they soar—

and an openness
I once prayed for
before I understood the cost.

But we are not knitted, grief—
not bonded, not joined.
Whatever is most essential in me

is truer than the story
you’ve been written into,
truer than page itself.

Whatever is most essential in me
longs to know you,
longs to dance naked

and unashamed with you,
but it is entirely unchanged by you.
Whatever is most essential in me

thanks you for the lessons
that keep me asking who I am.
I closed my eyes, and the light came in.

Who am I? I asked, and I watched
the story disappear from the page,
as if the ink were a murmuration.

Who am I? I ask, and the only answer
alive on my tongue
is thank you.

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Understanding the Self

The lake is a good example, perhaps.
Though invasive plants grow
along the shore, though
it is adorned with new piers,
though boats float upon it
and fish swim in it,
the lake is not any of these things.
Whatever is lake is still lake.
Even if you pour dye into it
and it changes color.
Even if weeds grow from the bottom
or algae blooms on the top.
And though we might call it
by different names, those names
are just strings of syllables.
The lake is still the lake.
The self is like a lake.
Though we try to label it
baker or banker or mother or cop,
should any of these labels change
the self is still the self.
Though it wears brown boots
or flip flops or goes barefoot.
Though the hair grows long
or the nails are short.
Whether its days seem perfect
or full of mistakes.
The self is the self, unperturbable.
Like a lake.

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in the silence
the small talk
a whole life
is lived—
a life
in which
you are
only more so,
a self without
name, a self
of no
where, a
self unselved,
is to say
that sometimes
in the silence
of a minute
you find
some vision
so vast
so true
that you weep
before saying,
And how are you?

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Happy Birth Day

Happy Birth Day

Each morning, this chance

to birth again the self—

to push it through

the canal of dream,

this chance to open

through the center

and let the new self emerge,

to marvel as it appears,

glistening with potential.

Of course the new self cries.

It needs to be warmed,

nourished, held.

Imagine what it’s like

to be that new—

to not believe any thought,

to not assume any thing.

Imagine what it’s like

to be that attentive,

that vulnerable.

Self, can you meet

each day

like that? Like that.

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