Posts Tagged ‘transformation’



I teach my sighs to lengthen into songs.

—Theodore Roethke



There is a secret music

that fills us from within,

a clear song that rises

as the mud of our thoughts

settles out, how quietly

it arrives at first,

our own true voice.


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Dave slips the wine thief

into the barrel and siphons

the young red wine. Into my glass,


he spills it and asks what I taste.

Pineapple. Pepper. Currant.

In another, there is cinnamon.


In another, sunshine and almond.

The thief dips again and again

into cab franc and merlot, syrah,


and grapes I’ve never heard of before.

They are all changing,

Dave explains. Come back again


in a month, he says, and they

will all be different. I think

of what a difference a month makes,


how the heart, like wine,

stays essentially the same,

only it’s ever transformed—


the notes it carries, innuendo,

the balance. At last, we reach

the barrel of white, Gewertzraminer.


In my glass sings pear and grapefruit and

summer still shy. Though it, too, is unfinished,

I could drink it all night.


All around us, inside us,

so much is changing. I tell myself

not to fear. There can be pleasure


in this art of change,

exotic and sweet,

a hint of rose petal, spice.



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The heron flies away

and its great blue wings

touch the surface of the water.

For a time, after the heron

is gone, the twin concentric wrinkles remain.

If you leaned far enough, you could

see your reflection in ripples,

your image warped by the memory

of flight. The water

returns to its stillness,

your face again your familiar face—

but that is not the way

with all memories.

Sometimes, we

never see ourselves

the same again.

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You are the elephant

and I the room,

you the lark,

the missing spoon,


you the question

that swallowed the answer,

you the music

inside the dancer,


and I am still

the waiting room—

or, perhaps, dear elephant,

a cocoon.

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This is the path of failure. We see that our definition of success is what is not working. What is working is deep, unseen. —Joi Sharp



Even a small discontent is enough to shut us down,

convince us that the world is cold and indifferent.

Everywhere there’s evidence of this: The slush


that falls on your car seat when you open the car door.

The carrion eaters with their great black wings

that linger beside the road. You pray for sun,


and it gets darker. Someone asks

you a question, and you see your whole life

fold into one small envelope of failure.


Then one day you hit against the same

impassable wall you always hit and this time you fall

to your knees, not because you are weak,


but because at last you are ready to be opened.

Oh sweet failure, how it leads us.

Any unhappy ending is only an invitation


to crawl into the blank pages

of the next unwritten chapter.

It was never success that transformed us—


always the breaking. Not the breaking itself,

but the mystery inside pushing through us

like bindweed through pavement


making cracks in everything

we think we know so that the world

can come streaming in.





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The Soul Has Demands


with thanks to Mirabai, Lorca and Judyth Hill



I want my body to fall down

into a heap of sandalwood.

I’ve been made of crystal too long.


I have spent too many days

trying to love what I do not love.

I want my body to fall down


into a heap of mahogany.

You ask me why. The square root

of negativity is negativity.


My prayers want more than

a new language, they want

new lips, a new tongue.


Golden ideas hammer

against my facts. Before the moon’s

up, it’s already down.


I want my body to fall

into a heap of walnut or cherry.

Carve me into un violencello,


un bandalon, un arpa, smooth,

warmed and played

by curious hands into song.


The rose says this:

the square root of bliss

is bliss.



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when I was four or five

and my mom took me

to a home where rhubarb

was growing.

The old woman there

cut the thick red stalks,

peeled back the tough outer skin

and then sprinkled

the naked stem

with sugar. The crystals

stuck to the wetness.

Take a bite, she urged,

my first invitation

to learn how

it takes so little sweetness

sometimes to transform

a sourness into something

we might learn to love.


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one lumpy




to stirring



the chance

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carrying that sled

uphill for so long, I forgot

it was for riding


shedding the roof

when the house no longer fits—

now nothing between us and the stars


but I miss the weight

say the hands, too free after

setting down the stone chest


running full speed

into my own fear, I ricochet

into the arms of god

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for Michelle

On a snowy hill
with the sky soft gray
and the wintering sage
all scrubby and dark
we wandered in circles
around the white knob
and spoke in circles
sage and gray, about
the dark and what is soft,
we were not lost, just
happy to be wandering
inside a snowy afternoon,
we found our own footprints
and stepped in them again,
though already we were not
the same women who’d made them.

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