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Posts Tagged ‘self’

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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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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At the Pond

 

 

 

It’s no Walden, but it’s cool

and the day is dust hot,

and so I ask my younger self

if she wants to go swimming,

and she grabs the hand of my older self,

and drags her to the pond.

My older self was, perhaps,

more rhetorical than sincere

when she suggested the swim,

but the younger self has already

kicked off her shoes and shrugged

out of her dress. The swallows

wheel and sweep overhead

and all along the pond’s edge

the dragonflies darn through the reeds.

What is it in us that never forgets

how to jump in, no matter

how cold, no matter who’s watching,

no matter what else

we’re supposed to do?

That is the part that is already wet

and otter slick as the older part of me

stands at the edge, still dressed,

in awe of that girl, how she

glitters in the sun, how

through chattering teeth,

she laughs, how she looks

so almost familiar.

 

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One Almost Lost

 

 

 

in a field of a hundred greens

surprised to find

I am still me

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When climbing the inner branches

of the largest spruce we can find,

 

and finding the prickly lattice

an easier ladder than we imagined,

 

we might climb high enough

that we forget if we are climbing

 

to get away from or to move toward,

might climb long enough

 

that at last it is neither tree

nor land nor sky that feels

 

like home, but our own

limbs as they find the next place

 

to step, to pull up, to rest.

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the dark is    less dark

and the shapes    of the world

reveal again their    singular shapes—

I know they don’t really    lose their lines in the dark,

but I like to imagine    all those newly

illumined    silhouettes

have spent the night    blurred, puddled

into one    immense darkness,

forgetting    for a while

that they have    any lines

worth    preserving.

It is enough    to make a woman

wish that    the light

would never    come

if that is    what it takes

to make us    all remember

how arbitrary    they are,

these boundaries    we like

to call    ourselves.

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