Posts Tagged ‘self’


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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into the soil

of self




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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