Posts Tagged ‘story’




And because she is wise

in the ways the young are,

my daughter, frightened and weeping,

asked between sobs

for a happy story.


There are times when a story

is the best remedy—

not because it takes us away

from the truth but because

it leads us closer in.


I told her the story of her birth,

and we laughed until

it was my turn to cry as I realized

no matter how scary the world,

what a miracle, the birth of a child.


Then, as fear made a sneaky return,

we whispered a list of things we

were grateful for, falling asleep with these

words on our breaths: cats, books, rivers,

home, family, soft blankets, music.

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One Heroine

please, just one more

once upon a time

she said to the night

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The pencil, it turns out,

has never contained lead.

It’s always been graphite—

a form of solid carbon.

How much of what we think


we know is just a mistaken story

passed on for centuries?

And the human body, it turns out,

contains enough carbon

for 9,000 pencils—


that is a fact of the world,

a fact like the distance

from earth to the moon,

a fact like 99 percent of all human DNA

is the same. I’d like to think I will use up


my pencils, one every three days,

writing the story of what it is

to be alive here, to fall in love,

to disagree, to fail, to try again.

I want to write of healing,


write of the autumn air,

how it touches everything

with its cool transparency.

Write of how we are here

to revel in beauty, to find ourselves


in each other, to serve a story greater

than the one we know how to write,

serve the story that even now

is writing us.



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reading the book again—

the dogeared pages the same,

the story in them, wholly changed


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“Sometimes I draw a straight line

and the other artists tell me

to squiggle it—“


all night I re-imagine

our storyline with curves

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Stages of Grief


We sat in the round

and rubbed our stories

like prayer beads that

we’ve kept,


but one man let

the world erode him—

so naked, so sacred

he wept.

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Rewrite the first chapter,

the one in which someone else

starts to tell your story.

Notice how when you erase it,

all the chapters after it

go blank. Fields of blank pages.

Skies of blank pages. Blank minutes,

blank days, blank years. Listen

for what’s left of your story—

nothing. Miss your friends.

Miss your mom. Miss your old house

and your problems. Go back

to chapter one. Rewrite it exactly

as it was written, but keep

the pen in your hand. You want

to be in charge of the story

from here on in.

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It Used to Rule Me

that old story—
I laugh now through the darkest part
and the weight breaks
into a thousand thousand

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Pay Attention, Heart

After the frost, the cosmos fronds
are brittle and brown. Not a hint
of return. Not a trace of pink. Brown.
Partially dust already. Sometimes it needs
to be this way in order for us to do
the work that must be done—the pulling
up of things by the roots and discarding
them into a pile. No, if there were any green chance
that the cosmos might bloom again,
it would be easier to tell the self a story
about how, with some luck and some care,
the plant might leap back to life.
But the story is a trick ladder,
every rung is covered in oil and even
if you reach the top it leads to nowhere.
Look. The flowers are dead. They were lovely once.
Say thank you. And give the stem a tug.

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For all the history of grief
an empty doorway and a maple leaf.
—Archibald MacLeish

I wanted to start this story
at the end, but couldn’t think
of any stories I believe are truly over.

Certainly not the one about you
and me and our lilies, the way they
bloomed beyond their time, how

even long after they dropped their petals
they still manage to plant themselves
in my thoughts every week. And bloom again.

The end. Well, there’s just nothing
more to say after those two words,
and nothing else to listen to.

I don’t know about you, but I love
a cliffhanger in every story except my own,
love the way my stomach

turns inside out while I wonder what
happens next. Will he forgive her?
Will her body open again like day lilies,

over and over? Our books are written
in unreadable ink. And oh, this longing
for completion, this longing to know.

Any garden could tell you that even after
the flowers die there’s the long slow plot of rotting,
the unhurried scenes of worms and grubs,

and even if the flowers are later replaced
by weeds, well the story itself doesn’t care
where it goes. Only the hero wants to know

that everything will be okay. But the story
it just keeps rising from the loam
of any old once upon a time.

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