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Posts Tagged ‘self’

There

Digging

deeper

into the soil

of self

planting

only

seeds

of you.

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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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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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Dear Other Version of Myself,

 

In my calendar, it’s April second

and you are going to an event tonight

at a bookstore in another town

where the people will gather

and hug each other and taste

each other’s wine. You live in a world

that no longer exists, and every day

I try to reconcile it—how you

had plans to go camping next weekend,

how you were going to go to the theater

with no mask, no gloves,

no sense of your body as a weapon.

 

Every day, your life, which once was my life,

seems increasingly impossible.

Every day, these two worlds are farther apart—

the one in which you were getting on a plane

to visit your mother

and the one in which I put on rubber gloves

to go to the post office box.

I remember how seldom you washed

your hands for fear that someone you love

would die. I remember what it was like

to hug my friends with no worry

of harming them, to go to a restaurant,

to plan for a day past tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And once again the invitation

to see beyond the self—

the way water knows itself

not only as river and lake

but also as fern, as cloud, as cat.

Forgive me for believing

I end with this skin, these ideas,

these imaginings. Sometimes

I forget to choose vastness,

forget to know the self

as cliff, as maitake, as crumb.

How is it I so often miss the invitation?

How is it I overlook that I

am lemon, asteroid, wren?

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Less

 

 

Today I can see how I wear it

like a velvet dress, the dream

 

of wanting to be somebody.

It’s so easy to forget I am wearing it.

 

Because it is lovely. Because

it feels good. But life

 

hands me a hanger and asks me

to take off the dress

 

and move naked today

through my inner rooms.

 

It’s not as if anyone else can see,

but I notice, as I must,

 

how much easier it is now to know

the self as sunrise, as apple seed,

 

as cinnamon, as you.

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Big

This is, perhaps, the year to learn to be big.

Spruce tree big. Cliffside big. Big as mesa,

as mountain lake. Big as in cosmos, as in love.

Being small has never served me—constricting,

contorting, trying to fit into a room, into shoes,

into a name. Let this be the year to escape all those little

rules with those little shoulds, all those little

cages with their little locks. Time to make of myself

a key, time to lean into immensity. Time to supersize

communion, time to grow beyond self. Time to

open, to unwall, to do as the universe does,

accelerating as it expands, not rushing toward

something else, but changing the scale of space itself.

This is the year to be big .

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for it is not so much to know the self   

as to know it as it is known

   by galaxy and cedar cone

—A.R. Ammons, “Gravelly Run”

 

I want to know the self

the way a nest might know

the eggs it holds, the way

a feather might know a wing.

I want to know the self

as a bank knows a river,

as wave knows water,

as night knows the night.

There is a kind of knowing

that has less to do with certainty

and more to do with meeting

the world again and again as it is.

I want to know the self

with no name, with no story,

as a stone might know it,

or a song.

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I’m exactly the person that I thought I’d be.

                        —Amanda Palmer, “In My Mind”

 

 

And there she was in Wikipedia, the woman

with my name who went to my college and

attended my grad school and graduated the same

years as I did. She wrote books that I wrote

and lives in the same state I do.

There was no picture of her, but I think

I might recognize her if I see her. Though in reality,

I recognize her less and less. I remember

how much she wanted to be in Wikipedia.

How the bio she wished for included honors

way beyond the honors they list. I know

how she still struggles with what she thinks she wants

and who she actually is. Of course, I love

that they spelled her name right. That they

neglected to mention the awards she didn’t get

last week. How they left out the part

where she didn’t want to get out of bed

in the morning for months. But dang.

Wikipedia. I mean, how could that not

make her feel as if she’s somehow arrived—

categorized as “American Woman Poet,”

which, they don’t mention, has been

her dream since fifth grade. If they knew,

they might expand her bio to mention the winter day

back in 1979 when she sat in a beanbag

on Mrs. Zabrowski’s fifth grade floor

and stared out the window

at the furious Wisconsin winter storm

and read “The Snowflake” by Walter de la Mare,

falling in love with what poems can do.

That was the day she felt the wild tremor

of words and thought, Maybe I could do it, too.

And maybe tonight, looking in the mirror,

she will see that no matter the honors

she never received, she did follow

the wild tremor of words to become

the woman she dreamed she could be.

And though Wikipedia won’t tell you why,

she’s starting to believe she’s exactly

the woman she dreamed she could be.

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Losing It

 

 

It was a tiny percentage, I knew, but still

there was some French royalty somewhere

in my blood. I would spend hours imagining

myself in my proper place: in a long pink dress

 

and thin gold crown in a castle on a green hillside,

doing needlepoint, no doubt, and nibbling bon bons,

and so when I again asked my mother to tell me about

that part of our heritage, she told me,

 

It’s so little blood, and you’ve had so many

skinned knees, I’m pretty sure you’ve

bled it all out by now. And I was instantly

less grandiose. That was, perhaps, the first identity

 

that I was aware of losing. But soon after that,

I was no longer blonde. And soon after that,

I no longer lived in Wisconsin. And soon after that,

I was no longer a Scout. Everything I thought

 

I knew about myself didn’t last. Ah,

the litany of losses. Those notions of who we are,

how they shed, they spill, they slip off.

As they’re lost, we usually rush to replace them.

 

I became worker. Lover. Parent. Friend.

We wear them so close, these identities ,

that we no longer see them as separate. We think

they’re who we are. But what if we skinned

 

not just our knees, but our thoughts,

and let those roles escape? Who would

be left to walk through the field this evening

to see the double rainbow stretched across the east?

 

 

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