Posts Tagged ‘vulnerability’

(title is a quote from Amy Irvine McHarg)



here kitty, kitty,

she says, crooking her finger,

her mouse heart leaping against her chest

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Hi friends,

Yesterday my good friend Kyra Kopestonsky came over to play cello … she has a grant application due so we were making videos of collaborative pieces we’ve performed together before. What a great way to spend a morning hour, reciting poems and making music. It’s a little echo-y, but here’s a playful version of “Post Script”. I love the way the cello underlines all the fragility–proof somehow that through resonance we can support each other in our most vulnerable places. Good luck, Kyra, getting that residency!

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She sports it

like a skimpy t-shirt,

but underneath

she wears a vest,

bullet proof.

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Too long I have dared to not dare,

love. Here, here is my whole heart,

and here is the fence I built

around it and here is the match

to burn the fence and while we are at it,

the doors, too, and the walls

and the weathervane.

I have no idea what comes next.


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Apricots on Tannin Road

anytime it might freeze—
still, they open wild inside me
apricot blossoms

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Mommy, she says, walking up
to me and my son as we gesture

and guess and giggle,
Mommy, she says, I feel

like I want to hurt someone
right now. And she lays down

between my son and me, and
offers me her eyes. I think how

brave she is to identify
a feeling and stare it straight on.

It’s not hard to uncover
she feels left out of the game

and wants to join in. Oh give
me such candor, such willingness

to say what I mean and lay myself
down to rest in the middle of things

with such (one word, five syllables,
fifth syllable sounds like plea)


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In less than a minute
the citadel
around the heart
is reduced to sand,
not by the wrecking ball,
not dynamite,
but with the softest voice
speaking the painful truth
of how sad, how broken we are.
In that unlocked moment,
even the air is naked.
It is impossible to imagine
that anything ever came between us,
or that anything ever will again.
But it does come back,
doesn’t it, that thick gray wall.
Sometimes thicker
or taller than before.
Birds come to roost there.
Ivy grows up the face.
Who knows who scrawls
all that graffiti on both sides.
And then, in an instant,
it’s gone again. Nothing but dust.
With the softest voice.
The painful gift. It’s
so messy, so beautiful,
how broken we are.

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with Rumi’s quotes from Undressing, trans. Coleman Barks.

I have just pulled out
my best armor and scrubbed
it with Kroger oven cleaner,

the only thing strong enough
in my cupboard to pull out
the metal’s intrinsic shine.

It glitters as I step
into the tall, silver legs,
the breast plate shimmers

in the afternoon sun,
and Rumi walks into the room
and pushes me with his hand.

I fall like a pin, like a tree, like a woman,
and clatter and clang echo
all around the room.

“Learn the alchemy true human beings know,”
Rumi says. “The moment you accept
what troubles you’ve been given,

the door will open.”
I struggle to stand and he tickles me
under the arms where the armor

exposes my skin.
“Joke with torment brought by the friend,”
he says. I stick out my tongue at him.

I clatter and clank and fail to stand.
This time he sits on the wooden floor beside me
and motions for me to be still.

The armor is uncomfortable,
and his fingers so soft as he cradles my face.
“Sorrows are the rags of old clothes

that serve to cover,” he says. “Take them off.”
“But I’m scared,” I tell him.
“I’m under attack.”

He looks at the empty room.
I want to tell him about
the woman who stabbed

at my back today, stabbed
from a hundred miles away. And
the man who would eat me alive.

But the space grows bigger all around us,
inside us, and the armor, it disappears.
It’s as if it the armor were never here.

Nothing left. Not a clang,
not a clunk, not a screw.
I am naked in the open room

with the sunlight reaching through.
And Rumi, he is gone.
No one here but quietude.

And the long, long sword.
And the butcher knife. And a note
in Persian script:

“Welcome difficulty as a familiar comrade,”
Rumi has written, “And PS: That undressing
and the naked body underneath,

that is the sweetness that comes
after grief.” Goosebumps
rise on my naked arms, my belly, my chest.

A breeze goes over my cheek.
I do not reach for the robe
nearby, do not shrink

from the weaponry. I sit.
And doors I never knew were there
swing wide, wide open.

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Above the deep river
on the slenderest branch—
a nest.

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It’s okay,
she croons to her doll,
and cradles it
in the small angle
of her arm. It’s okay,
and she holds the doll closer,
closer than that.
Then she raises
her voice above the roar
of the vortex dry
and says to me,
Mommy, she’s scared
of the noise.

And in the back seat
the two girls
snuggle against
the clatter and blast.
It’s okay, it’s okay,
it’s okay.

And it’s quiet,
so quiet,
later that night
when she calls to me
from her bed.
Mommy, it’s so dark,
she says.
And we curl
our softnesses together
and I whisper to her
the words
I most want to hear.
It’s okay,
it’s okay

I say.

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