Posts Tagged ‘stillness’



written at the Carmelite Monastery in Crestone, CO



It holds everything, silence,

offers itself as a blank staff

on which every song it written—

the tiny hymn of insect wings,

the baritone of the jet as it flies

from one measure of sky to the next,

the dry requiem of rustling grass,

the emphatic chorus of crow.


How generous, silence,

am I willing to know it?

How it includes even the cough,

the belch, retching, the wailing,

the snarl, the scream, the shatter,

and scores these in concert with the hum,

the lush purr, the whisper of the lover,

the ecstatic tremulo of sigh.


There is no sound it refuses to hold.

Its patience is infinite.

So when we, like weary pilgrims,

tired of hearing the percussion

of our own footsteps, arrive at its doors,

silence receives us, welcomes us home.

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The pelican dives

into the water,

rises again. Hovers.

Dives. Rises.

Each time, the water is quick

to forget the intrusion

loses its ripples,

stills. A thought

is a kind of a pelican.

A woman is a kind

of a bay. The pelicans

will always dive.

The bay will always

return to stillness.

A woman might

learn to live this way.


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yet another poem inspired by this composition by Erik Satie



You wonder why I haunt you

like moonlight, why I come to you

like morning fog, dream thick and cool,

why I steep myself into your thoughts

like bergamot in black tea.

You wonder why I seldom leave you,

why I slip into your silences

the way rye darkly slips into bread.


It is my work to give you shivers,

make you tremble, make you still.

It is my work to make you fall in love

with the darkness inside yourself. It is my work

to be the unexpected black swan, and you,

it is your work to be the night pond.



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sitting with flowers in the garden

until I am

flower in the garden

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Nothing happened today

as I sat for five minutes in the dark,

but all day I could feel the everywhere of it,


even as the car was sliding sideways down the hill,

even as my daughter wept, even as my singing group

laughed until we cried, I could feel it still there,


the silence that holds up all sound, the stillness

that cradles all motion, the peace that supports

every disaster, the blue sky behind the clouds.

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If you watch the heron as it stalks

amongst the tall green reeds, then pauses,

and in its pausing disappears, then you understand

something of the power of stillness.


And if you, yourself, are still long enough

to see the head of the snapping turtle

rise between the lily pads,

then you glean something of the rewards

that come with sitting still.


But if you sit expecting such rewards,

then perhaps sit longer and watch the cattails

as they waver and still, sway and still and still,

and feel how the urge in you to say something rises

and softens and softens until there is nothing to say,


until that kind of stillness becomes

the greatest reward, until you feel

stillness hold you the way the lake

holds the lily pad, the way

the silence holds a song.



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Dear Boredom,




I miss you. I miss your long

minutes, your interminable hours,

your days that promised never to end.

What became of your

afternoons full of nothing?

Your yawning mornings?

Our weekends on the couch?

I remember how you once

wrapped your arms around me

and I thought you meant forever.

I believed in your quiet loyalty,

how still you were, not even

the curtains moved.

Now, even the moon is in a rush,

sprinting across the stars.

Now every single thing

has some song to sing.

The day hurls around

its confident light

and the minutes strut

around in berets and shout

into their megaphones.

Look, I’ve saved a place

for you at my table.

Please come. I don’t

remember what you look like,

but if you just hold me,

I’ll know it’s you come home,

I’ll know.





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that after years of driving past a place

on your way to somewhere else, this time


you stop. You find yourself sitting

beneath a scrappy tree as the shadows


make their daily rounds. The breeze stirs,

then forgets itself. The clouds balloon,


then disappear. The cars on the highway

continue their journey toward somewhere.


And you sit. What a relief to go nowhere.

What a gift to have nothing to say.


The winds of your thoughts bluster

and go away. An ant makes its way


to the top of a grass blade then makes

its way back down. The snow


that arrived on the peaks yesterday

melts by noon into the ground.


Where do you think you need to go?

You say, “There,” and the world says, “Here.”


There is cricket song all around you.

Gold tang of rabbit brush rouses the air.


Sometimes it happens this way: you stop.

And the world arrives at your chair.

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Only the Dance



At the still point of the turning world; neither flesh nor fleshless

—T. S. Eliot, from The Four Quartets



Waltzing in the kitchen,

I ask the sauté pan to dance.

It is an awkward affair,

neither of us is really sure

of the steps, neither of us

knows if the other is leading.

In the end, I curtsey. The sauté pan

retires to the stove top

and says nothing. There

is no applause. The music

that was not playing

continues not to play.


The deer in the grass

who did not turn to watch

the strange dance in the house

continue to eat the lawn,

which I know by tomorrow

will seem taller, though

I have never seen it grow.


In me, something so still.

I struggle to name it,

say “nothing,” and I bow

to the nothing, know it as true,

then it changes its name

to “everything.”


There is so much

I don’t understand.

On the stove, the butter

skitters across the pan.

It smells salty, sweet.

The pan and I are partners again.

I lift it by the handle

and swirl it slowly,

then return it to the grate.


I don’t dare be still now,

lest the butter burn.

Whatever is still in me

remains very, very still

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Still Rambling

I am tired
of evading
Was that
your plan
all along,
to outwait me,
that sooner
or later
after all that
and rumpus
I’d need a drink
of water
and take
by sweet accident
a sip

of you.

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