Posts Tagged ‘what is’



On a day when the world is cruel,

I do not try to fall in love with cruelty.

No, I invite myself to fall in love

with the what is beneath what is cruel.

In the meadow, it is a herd of elk walking through the snow.

In the room, it is a kitten curled in a crescent on the couch.

In myself, it is the part of me that defies any label—

woman/man, Christian/Jew, good/bad, knower/unknower.

I invite that ineffable part of me to go find itself

in the world. And everything is beautiful then.

There is nothing I cannot love.

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How It Goes with Hope

Eventually a burning hope
becomes ember, becomes glow,
becomes gone.
Whatever fuel it found
is spent, is done, is ash.
Not that you blame hope
for losing its brilliance.
More that you become
increasingly intimate with what is.
What is is an absence. What is
doesn’t sit in your lap. What is
doesn’t come to the door.
What is is very quiet.
But there is, if not hope,
a tenderness that lingers,
a tenderness that has a glow
of its own, a tenderness
that you carry with you
until it becomes you,
a warmth, a golden light
there when you fall asleep,
still there when you rise.
(note: sweet friends, thank you for all the emails and even the lovely letter about the loss of our cat, Otter. I didn’t mean to leave you hanging. She has not returned, and I am quite sure she met a predator. But my dear friend Jack gave me the sweetest advice: Please, when you are ready, begin to—maybe for only a minute—carry Otter in your body. That invitation a couple weeks ago was the basis for the feeling that evolved into this poem. And here it is, evidence of the small ways that we help each other as we carry grief. Thank you all. Thank you.)

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There I go again,
thinking that if
life were different
it would be better.
In specific, I wish
that you were different.
Which is to say,
more like me.
Which would,
I do not need to think
long about this,
be a total disaster.
Okay, so that’s not
what I want, I don’t
know what I want,
I just know that I don’t
want what is. And that,
I don’t need to read
Tricycle magazine
to know this, is the recipe
for unhappiness.
Okay. So I tell myself,
pretend everything
is the way it should be:
You the way you are.
Me the way I am. And
all those other folks
screwing up too, just
like screwing-up you,
just like screwing-up me.
And then there’s the goldfish
that died in the middle of it all.
And the rash that came back.
And the news. There is always
the news. The night leans in
to laugh at me.
I lean back, knowing
I won’t be caught.
For a moment,
I almost believe
that everything’s for the best
till I see the one who thinks
she has to think that,
and then I’m falling again
into the night’s leaky net.

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The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.
—Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Dear World,

Thank you for breaking me.

The rabbit brush are in full bloom.
Yellow in the field. Yesterday
I mowed the edges of the drive
and as a matter of course
I mowed whatever rabbit brush
was in my path. The air
smelled so good then,
a clean, sharp scent,
almost like sage,
only softer.

I have not been very good.
I have not been very gentle.
I have not been very brave.
But I have been sincere.
And I have loved.

There was a time when
I wanted to weed all the rabbit brush
from the field. I wanted only field grass.
I would wait for it to rain for days,
then pull up as much rabbit brush as I could.

World, I have not been very good.
And you have broken me so perfectly—
always leading me to just the right place
for falling apart. World, how do you do that?

The rabbit brush always come back
and eventually I learned to leave them
wherever they leap up. And eventually I learned
to find them beautiful.

I have not been very gentle, world.
I have taken what I wanted, sometimes mercilessly.
And you take every opportunity to kill me,
sometimes with fear, sometimes
with great or small beauty.

Yellow. Yellow. Yellow.
Thousands of yellow hands
all waving each time I arrive.

World, I have not been very brave.
I am not like Hemingway. When the war comes
I try to hide. And still you come to kill me
like a warrior, like a soldier,
only much, much slower.

The rabbit brush does not mind drought.
It thrives in cracked, parched soil.
The rabbit brush does not mind the rain.
It thrives. It thrives.

I can’t say I like being broken, world.
I can’t say I like being killed.
But you do it so well and I do admire
your insuperable skill. Keep killing me,
world, keep breaking me. Keep finding
my flaws. Press until I crack.
I am broken, dying, thriving. I am waving
at you waving back.

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As In All Things

Rain in our hair and rain
in our hands, rain on our
cheeks and rain in our lashes,
our pockets, our plans.
The rain, how it rains, how
we forget how we longed
to be dry. How we tiptoed
around the puddle. How
we huddled beneath the tree.
How we tried so hard not
to be what now feels so wetly fine.
Rain harder, rain, there is still
too much of me that tries to hide.

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wet hair,
wet dress, wet feet
wet eyes
across the field
blue sky

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I thought
by leaning
into loss,
it would become
more comfortable.
But it is like
overripe apricots.
There is no
no pretending,
no way
to make
it anything
but what
it is.
They are overripe.
to be done
about a gift
like that
except to walk
the rows
and gather
the sunwarmed
flesh, bruised
and soft,
and eat it until
you can’t
eat another
sweet bite,
then gather
the fruit
to freeze
until the freezer
will hold no more
and then
when the orchard
floor is still
mottled with
fruit on the edge
of moldering,
know there
is really
to be done,
and though
it is uncomfortable
stop naming
this experience
loss and
start leaning
into what is,
the only
we can

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Tired and cold
she came to a clearing
beside the river
and set herself down.
There, the moon.
The moon.


Not once had she dreamed
to bring the moon any closer.
Not once had she wished
it would move any faster.


How to stay in this place
of not wanting
not needing
not wishing
not hoping
not reaching, not knowing.


At the edge of whatever
she thought she knew
she leaned
until the only thing
touching her
was nothing.


Sometimes a story
ends. Sometimes it
plays again. Sometimes
we see through a story
to see ourselves.

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quickly now it ravels,
this garment of everything
I thought I knew

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