Posts Tagged ‘time’

A Blessing

In the dream, you are ten
and your slender body
curls into my side. We
lie on a purple bed.
Our awareness wings
at the edge of sleep,
our bodies more stone
than bird, your head
on my arm as heavy as time,
and I think, I love this
sweet sapling boy.
In the dream, you are alive,
and I sink all the way
into the sweetness
of the moment
the way I sometimes don’t
in life. I sink full weight
into the tender present
and no part of me wishes
to be anywhere but
in the low golden dream light,
your body warm and gentled,
my body quiet and easy.
Two days later,
I feel it still, the heft of love
unending and generous
close against my side.
It invites me to be more here
with the ones I am with.
With that same arm that held you,
I hold them. Time lifts.

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Perhaps I wish for something dangerous—
a rush, a breakneck ride, a snow-drunk risk.
Instead, my daughter and I slide the toboggan
down the drive with a languid, slow-motion
sluggishness. And we laugh as we urge
the wooden sled forward, creeping
down the hill. After a few laps, the run
is fast enough we can build a small jump
at the bottom, but it’s more of a bump
than a launch. What is it in the heart
that loves a surge, a swell of excitement,
a dance with danger? Why is it fun
to be out of control when the stakes are low?
Oh, my girl and I know, we know what it’s like
when the stakes are high. No wonder
we laugh as we slide at the pace of a stroll.
We know what it’s like to be out of control.
We know. I hold her by the waist as we barely move.
And part of me longs for speed. And part of me
is grateful to move in a way that lets me hold her
a little bit, even just a few seconds, longer.

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Teach us to sit still.
            —T.S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday, Part 6”

How soon I seem to have forgotten
how to be still, how to not plan,
how to step out into the day
and let the world itself write
the story of how a morning becomes
an afternoon becomes a night
becomes a woman.
How soon I seem to have forgotten
the value of not doing,
the gift of unscheduling,
the blessing of dipping my toes into the stream
of no time, then wading in full body,
where I remember I am part of an infinite story
at the same time I relearn how fragile it is,
this life.
How soon I forgot I could change it all.
Even now, I could be still again.
I could choose silence.
Even now.

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One Lingering

a year later, still savoring
the tingling silky aftertaste of eternity
I sipped in a dream

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Another part of me turns left,
and it is fifteen years ago
and I am driving to my parents’ new home
and my son and I will spend the night with them
because they live there and we can.
By the time I turn onto the highway toward home
it is fifteen years ago
and my father is sitting in his favorite chair
and my son curls into his lap
and dad tells him his ears are his mouth
and they laugh
and my mother and I make tea and chat.
And I am almost to the stoplight in Ridgway
when it is fifteen years ago,
and we go outside and make a fire in the pit
and sit in a half circle and sing camp songs
and snuggle because we are there.
And when I get home, an hour later,
it is fifteen years ago
and I am so full of their presence
and roasted marshmallows and
joy and loss that I lift my son
into his crib and kiss my father
on the cheek that is now ashes
and hug my mother now far away
then walk into the house
where my son no longer lives
and I have never been
so here.

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I think of a year ago
and all I did not know.
I do not hold my innocence
against myself.
If there is a future me,
I toast her tonight.
May she look back at me
as I light this white candle
and whisper love into the flame.
May her thoughts be generous
as she remembers
how it is to live
with this heart,
both ruined
and burnished by loss.
As I toe the edge of the year,
the edge of the moment,
I imagine her waiting
on the other side, saying,
Jump, sweetheart, jump,
I’ve got you.
Or perhaps she says
nothing at all,
but stands there as I do now
looking back,
arms impossibly open.

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If I could go back in time
and offer advice to my younger self,
I wouldn’t.
I would let her fail all over again.
I’d let her falter. I’d let her lose.
I’d let her stumble
and struggle and bomb.
But I would lean in close
and let her know
I am deeply in love with her.
It’s so easy now to give her this,
this self-compassion in full bloom,
this thing she believed
was impossible.

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Perhaps someone in the future
is writing love letters to me
the way I have done for Chopin,
van Gogh, Neruda, Akhmatova.
Are we, the living, already ancestors?
Could these waves of love
have been sent back in time
to arrive today while I am walking
in the department store
and begin to weep
near the kitchen implements?
I feel it, this invisible current of love,
buoyant as salt water,
as it carries me through the aisles.
I begin to believe it, the continuum,
the mirrored stream,
begin to believe the waves
of love travel not through time
but are directly transmitted
from heart to heart
to timeless heart,
to receptive present heart.


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I resist. There is so much to do,
but soon my eyes are closed
and Mom is pulling her fingers
through my hair the way I love
and I am ten again, or four,
or twenty-five, or two,
lying on the plaid couch
in our old house
with my head in Mom’s lap,
her fingers in my hair.
I wake up drenched in forever,
this timeless stream
I sometimes can see for what it is—
like a fish that leaps for a fly
and sees, oh! an infinite world
beyond the world it knows.
Is it any wonder, this water
clinging to my cheek
as I rise from the couch
and swim back into the night.  

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Dear Heather,

on William’s birthday

There was a time before we lost our sons,
a time before the long walks in the frozen woods,
a full-bellied time when we cherished how they grew.

Today the snow came again, at last,
though it was more sifting than deep drift.
I notice I want more.

It’s so human to want more, I tell myself.
More snow, more time, more love,
more memories of making fires in winter,

tasting summer s’mores, feeding hummingbirds,
making cookies, speaking silly languages,
skinny dipping in the river, singing to Rusted Root.

It feels right their birthdays should feel heavy—
heavy as the snow that didn’t fall today,
heavy as the bodies they didn’t grow into.

Oh, the weight of love—light as the sunshine
that slanted through the room between squalls,
substantial as the tractors our boys are not driving.

I think of how much we’ve grown in their absence—
which is to say how much we’ve grown
in the company of heartache, the company of love,

how powerfully loss has stretched us.
Somehow, these boys linger in our being.
They arrive through song, through silence.

In this after time, we feed them with memories—
some true, some more than true.
Each time we say their names, they grow.

It’s so human to want more, no matter
how reconciled we are to what is. Oh,
for more time, somehow, between forever and now.

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