Posts Tagged ‘time’

is what you say when pressing
the garlic cloves into the soil in early November:
five inches down, sprout side up.
But no matter how well one plants them—
preferably six inches apart so they don’t compete
for sunlight or water or space—
it will still be a long time
before green shoots come up.

It’s the same thing I say to myself
as I sit by my husband and weep,
as I’ve done nearly every day
for over a year since our son died.
No matter how well one grieves—
whether the heart is cracked asphalt
or a lush peony—
it’s going to take a long time.

A long time, perhaps forever.
I tell myself, Go ahead,
cry when you think of how he used to race
to the car when you’d come home.
As if I could stop myself.
I cry because my body says cry.
Because I remember the shape
of his body crushed into mine.

Because sometimes my heart
is more dead bird than wing.
Because some things we simply live into.
Winter will come and freeze the dirt.
Next spring, there will be green shoots.
Late summer, we will pull thick bulbs from the earth.
We will welcome the taste, sharp and strong.

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After years,
what once
was enormous,
sharp and piercing
now is rounded,
fits like a marble
in the palm
of my hand.
This is what comes
from touching it,
brushing up against it,
holding it
again and again.
And again.
Once, it cut me.
Now, as I rub it
beneath my fingers,
it soothes me,
reminds me
how I, too,
have been softened,
how I, too,
have been embraced
and held
and nestled
until I am smooth.

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I want to go back in years
and find my grandmother Rose
when she is living in Illinois
with my grandfather,
a cruel and angry man.
I want to meet her
on a cold snowy day
when the world feels small
and she feels smaller,
and I want to serve her
a bowl of ripe mango
with a squeeze of lime.
I would love to see her face
when she tasted it—
the orange flesh
that sings of sunshine,
warmth, and the far away.
Would she love it
the way I do this morning,
astonished by the goodness
that exists in the world?
Would she thrill,
as I do, in the surprise
of being served?
As it is, I delight in sitting
on a deep red couch with my friend,
sighing as we slip the soft cubes
into our mouths,
making lists of people
we long to feed mango—
like Beethoven, like Etty Hillesum,
like my grandmother,
who likely never tasted
a mango, my grandmother,
who knew so little of kindness.
Over sixty years later,
I long to serve her mango
to make her feel seen,
cared for, special,
astonished by the sweetness
of the world.

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One Foreshadowing

still seeds in the ground
all those forests
we’ll someday walk through

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Not that the sorrow became smaller.
Not that I stashed it away.
Not that I moved through it.
More as if a spaciousness grew,
as if the lens of life had been zoomed in tight
and slowly, slowly it widened.
Or as if I’d been cupping my hands
around something precious
and finally I trusted I could open my hands
and that precious thing would not fly away—
or perhaps it would, and I would still be fine.
All I know is today, I feel it,
not only the sorrow, but also
an inner vastness, a capaciousness,
an ability to breathe, to be opened,
as if my own back has turned
into a window. As if my heart
has become clear sky.

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An hour means nothing
to this rivulet
unbraided from the stream.
To the towering spruce,
what’s a day?
What know these red cliffs
of a week? A month?
To the deep meadow,
what’s a year?
But for those who give themselves over
to the wind-kissed field,
the quiver of grass,
the great rise of Mount Abrams
and the quieting,
for those who linger on this timeless land,
a moment could mean everything.

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The Bidding

Again, I am ruled by it,
this invitation to be wildly open
the way a day is open,
this invitation to be porous
the way birdsong is porous,
this invitation to feel it all
the way skin feels it all when
I slip into a blue alpine lake.
Again this urge to fall all the way
into the mystery and refuse
any rope thrown in an attempt
to rescue me. Morning comes
with the scent of autumn,
charged with ripeness and rot
and the kinship of everything.
What an honor to be mortal,
to know the value of a day,
to know how vulnerable we are
and then give ourselves away.

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Nearing the Time When

Even without a calendar,
I would know it is nearly a year
since you left this world.
I know by the angle
of sun in the trees.
Know by the way
I need a sweater at night.
Know by the peas ripe on the vine
and the carrots just now long enough to pull.
I know by the scent
of afternoon monsoons
and the daily threat of mudslides
and the regreening of the field before the gold.
The whole world seems to remember
what it was doing the day you died.
The hummingbirds were swarming
the sweet water in the feeder.
The blue dragonflies were landing
on reeds near the pond.
And the sunflowers in the garden
had just begun to open.
I am pierced by an awareness
of what is not the same,
how the rhythms of the heart
have wildly changed,
even as the river sings red and low
as it always does in August,
even as the mushrooms push through the duff
as they do, as they do, as they always do.

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A bookmark is a kind of promise.
You can go back, it says,
I will mark this place
where you have been,
this place where you
will want to return.

I want a bookmark
for every moment of your life.
Want to mark, for instance,  
the day when we walked the streets
and listened to music.
The day when you held your sister
as she cried. The countless nights
when I sat at your bed and sang.
Days picking cherries.
Hours swimming the river.
Lighting fireworks year after year.

I notice what a bookmark is not.
Not eraser. Not pen.
Not a chance to change the story
or to live it again.
It simply invites us to resee
how not one bit of life is ordinary,
invites us to look back and marvel
at the treasure of each moment,
even as the pages keep turning.

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inspired by the painting “Winter (The Vicarage Garden Under Snow)” by Vincent Van Gogh and the piano composition “Winter Fields” by Kayleen Asbo

While he painted the world in browns and grays,
Vincent van Gogh did not yet know
of the throbbing vibrance that would someday
emerge from inside him. He did not yet know
how these somber scenes—like a man alone
shoveling the dim weight of winter—
would give way to an ecstasy of gold,
an elation of blue, rapturous green.
God, I am drawn to these grim, gritty paintings
with their muted schemes and tangled branches,
searching for notes of what will happen—
how he will travel to the warmth of Provence,
will come to share through thick stroke and bright hue
“the terrible passions of humanity.”
How he will give everything, everything to his art—
how his talent will grow as the world breaks his heart,
how he will change the way we see beauty,
how he will be wrestled by melancholy.
I imagine him sitting in the bleak Dutch cold,
painting the dreary, dissonant snow,
becoming the painter he’s destined to be,
living into the losses, the gifts he does not yet know.

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