Posts Tagged ‘time’

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 scenes
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 melancholy will never leave him.
I imagine him sitting in the bleak Dutch cold,
painting the dreary, dissonant snow,
becoming the painter he’s destined to be,
haunted by what he does not yet know.

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My son is wearing a black cardboard hat
with a golden tassel for kindergarten graduation.
He still has all his baby teeth, and his grin
is full of gaps and pride. He’s carrying
a yellow dandelion as if it’s a prize.
I love you, I say to the boy in the picture.
I love you, I say to the boy in my heart.

There are some who live their whole lives
without ever knowing they are loved.
Staring at his photo, I take comfort
in knowing he knew. Though his life was short,
though the world was too much,
here’s a picture of a boy
who knew he was loved.

Later that day, we went to the fair
and I followed him through fun house mirrors.
We slid on gray carpets down carnival slides
and he threw darts to hit balloons.
Later that night, I would have tucked him into bed,
sung him his song, kissed his head
and told him I was glad to be his mom.

I am still glad, eleven years later,
to be his mom. Knowing all that I know
about how he will grow and how he will hurt
and how he will go, I’ve never loved him more.
I open like a dandelion as I stare
at the photo of the ripening boy,
this boy I’m still getting to know.

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No Way to Anchor

While our bodies curl
into each other on the couch,
Vivian grabs my resting hand
and begins to smack it
into my chin.
Why are you hitting yourself?
she asks as my limp hand
repeatedly hits my jaw.
Why are you hitting yourself?
And we’re laughing and
I squirm and squeak
and she grins as she keeps up
her one-line interrogation.

I want to hold this giggling moment,
want to linger here
where the truth
that we hurt ourselves
becomes play,
where the trust
that we will do our best
to not hurt each other
runs deep, deep as the current
that drags this moment
with it through time,
even as I squeal Stop,
knowing how it goes on.

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Before the gun,
before the dark,
before the conversation
broke, before
I knew there would be
a before, there was
a love that touched
it all. That is the one thing
that hasn’t changed.

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Off the Clock

I want to wake with no sense of what a minute is—
no watch on my hand, no dial on the wall,
no method to measure this life into units of should.
I want to lean into the spell of sunlight like orchids on the sill.
I want to be a question only the moment can answer,
want bergamot to tell me it’s time for tea.
And if there is a pressing yes, then let it find me.
Let me feel into the field of my upper back—
how spacious it becomes when I act with integrity.
Let me be rhythm of shadow and birdsong
let me be rising wind. Let me be time itself,
not the arrow of time, but the infinite sea
and the sand that slips and the silence that swells
in the absence of tick tick tick. I want to wake
to no hands but yours and mine. To be born into the day.
No was. No will. No once. No when.
No deadline. No finish line. No wrong date. No too late.
No too late. Not even a little too late. It would never be too late.

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December 31

I know it’s just another square
on the calendar, another tick on a clock
in the Royal Observatory in London,
but tonight feels like a good time
to forgive myself—for thinking
I know anything. For wishing for life
to be any different than it is. For
blaming anyone or anything.
For every time I have turned away
from helping someone else. Tonight
is the right time to touch the darkness
and feel how small I am, to expose
my fear for the future, my pain
of the past, and let all be flooded
by the shimmer of present mystery.
Tonight is the time to nourish
the pericardium of the world,
to take care of the one great heart
that beats in us all and trust  
that our kindness matters always—
not in a conceptual way, but
in the very specific way we say hello,
the way we hold out our hand,
how we shape our words,
where we give of our time, and
how we open or wall off our thoughts.
I light a candle tonight, as every night,
and invoke my beloveds here and not here.
And though it’s a small act,
it unfastens some lock in me
and says yes, this is more
than a date, more than a timetable.
This is an essential point
on the continuum of love.
This is a chance to bring light.

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When in Rome

What a loss it would be
to not have born so I
would have missed a
Thursday night like this
in which my son and I
walk the dark streets
in Georgia and watch
the lightning transform
the sky into pink flares
and smell some sweet
unnamable flower and
talk about Dodge Chargers
and knees and roaches—
I swear it has all been
worth it, every second
of fifty-one years, for this
hour in which there
are no bells, no shoulds,
no other tugs except
to take the next step
down the centerline
while in the distance,
raps another clap
of thunder.

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Apricot Wine

for Dave

From this glass of chilled apricot wine,
bottled just days ago,
I drink the long days of summers past,
a potent sweetness that comes
only with time. I drink the memory
of the hands that harvested the fruit,
the memory of patience,
memory of soft rain and deep blue.

If I could bottle this day,
would there be enough sweetness in it
to make a wine I could savor?
Were there enough moments
when I fell in love with the world?
A laugh with a friend, scent of pine needles,
cold shower on hot skin,
and this glass of apricot wine.

Could I learn, as this wine has,
how to let goodness develop,
how to invite the taste of something wonderful
that wasn’t originally here?
In this wine, hints of pineapple, lemon,
plum. By what magic do they appear?
Oh world, teach me that patience.
Teach me to trust in time, to trust
in magic I don’t understand,
to improve with age, like apricot wine.

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It goes so fast, they say,
and clearly they don’t mean
today, which moves at the speed
of tectonic plates, not today
when holding a child
means not holding
that child because
they refuse to be held.
Sometimes, being a mother
is to move at the rate
of fear, the rate
of betrayal, the rate
of loss. Today,
to be a mother
is be ancient
oceanic crust that creeps
at ten centimeters a year.
Someday, perhaps tomorrow,
love will again be meteor,
but today it’s intense heat
at the core. It’s the slow scrape
of two great plates,
something cool
waiting to be warmed.

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even as we devour
the apple
scent of apple blossoms

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