Posts Tagged ‘softness’

for Merce & Bert & Heartbeat

It is true that anger, that betrayal,
that loss, but it is also true
that one day you might follow
a map to a high desert clearing
where there is a home
that runs on sunshine and rainwater,
and the floors are the color
of autumn leaves, and the beds are warm
and soft, and generous strangers
feed you thick soup and dark greens,
warm bread and good wine,
and as the clouds all around you lift,
you find yourself surrounded by song
and the love of good women and
the ripeness of years and you know yourself
as yet another soft animal—
like a rabbit or a fawn—a being
blessed to exist without claw,
without fang, a being blessed
for now to label this tenderness life.

Read Full Post »

In Your Honor

Before I rise, I realize
the cat has curled herself
into my side and my hand
floats to her slender spine.
So soft, she is, and I
remember how much
you loved everything soft—
blankets and stuffies,
pillows and clothes.
Remember how you begged me
for that plush purple owl?
And I remember how soft
your hair was, how soft
your skin, how soft
your heart even after
you learned to harden it.
I think of how
you come to me now
in feathers, in dreams,
in whispers. Oh world,
I want to beg, help me
stay soft. Like a fist
that, once stiffened,
remembers it can open.
Like a bird on a winter
morning, near frozen,
remembering not only
that it has wings, but
that it can fly.
Like your hands,
the day you were born.
Like your drowsy voice when,
before sleep, you’d murmur,
Love you, mama.
Sweet dreams.

Read Full Post »

            for Merry

I loved to sit on that green and white swirled couch,

loved even more to sit on it with my grandmother.

Everything about her was soft. Her wrinkled hands,

her sagging face, her bosom-y body she was forever

trying to slim. Her voice was cloudlike. Her laughter,

fine gauze. And her eyes ever met me with silk-strong love.

Why do I always return to that one afternoon

when she let me sit beside her, reading her poem

after poem, as if she had no garden to tend, no meal

to make, no hymns to practice for Sunday’s service.

Forty years later, in my kitchen, I’m still with her on the couch,

hoping we’ll stay that way just a little longer.

Read Full Post »


Sign of Inner Spring

Every year the pussy willows

astonish me with their willingness

to be soft in a time when the rest

of the world is stick-ish and harsh and bare.

Sometimes softness is the key to survival.

I search for it in myself—the courage

to shed the hard shell I thought would protect me,

to shuck the hard shell that no longer fits,

and I marvel as something new emerges,

soft as pussy willows, something practical

I can bring to the world,

this vulnerable, practical hope.

Read Full Post »



Again this morning

the invitation to be soft,

to notice how when we wake,

the cage of thorns that sprang up

yesterday is not now here.


It takes only just one thought of blame

or righteousness, and the thorns

return in all their ferocity

and brandish their barbs,

and flaunt their hooks,


but there is this moment

when we can simply notice

how soft we are, how vulnerable,

and choose to stay that way,

and a moment later, choose again,


oh, the morning, it smells like freedom.



Read Full Post »



arriving with no armor

with softness

they teach me

another way to meet the cold,

these pussy willows

Read Full Post »



It is slow and soft, the first movement—

the right hand sweeping in smooth triple meter,

the left hand singing against it.

Minor, the key, and mysterious

the melody, slow, it is slow and soft,

a walk through moonlight.

What is it that sometimes rises in us,

this urge toward crescendo, toward swell?

I feel it in my hands as they move

across the stoic keys, an urgency,

a reaching toward climax, a pressing

insistence, as if to sing louder is to sing

more true. But over and over again,

Beethoven reminds us, piano, piano,

his markings all through the music.

Oh beauty in restraint. It is soft,

the moonlight, a delicate fragrance,

it is heart opening, the tune,

it is growing in me, this lesson in just

how profoundly the quiet

can move us. And the hands,

as they learn to trust in softness,

how beautifully they bloom.


Read Full Post »


Oh the water lilies. See how they seem
to open wider out of their own opening?

Let me unfold like that—without thinking,
without assuming I’m already open enough.

Do not let me close up, all stiff and stoic,
like a walnut that will not crack.

Don’t let me become the one who groans
when someone else starts to rhapsodize

about the fragrant wisteria in spring.
Why is being hardened a respectable, desirable thing?

Let me be soft. Let me always sigh as I bite
into ripe watermelon, juice spilling in runnels

of pink down my chin, down my neck.
Let someone else stand beside the waterfall

and explain how its negative ions work,
and let me be the one getting drenched

and falling in love with the sheen on the rocks.
Let me not leave my signature like the woodpecker,

but let me chant endlessly on summer nights
in the way that the whippoorwill does.

And why not? Why not praise the slender-bodied weasels
who turn white then honest brown?

Both colors are equally lovely. Why not enthuse
over the bulky walrus that has adapted to stay warm?

Oh let me be warm and give that warmth back to the world.
It’s so easy to turn cold, to poke fun, to accuse, to be cool.

Let me be a fool. Let my thoughts of how the world should be
jump away like a mob of wallabies. Let me not find pleasure

in making things small or putting others down
or rolling my eyes or criticizing. Let me be silly.

And gushing with praise for whatever
is the nearest thing I see—

a twig in the rain, a rock on the trail,
a red leaf that has already let go.

* a w-poem for Lian Canty’s Alphabet Menagerie, http://www.alphabetmenagerie.com

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: