Posts Tagged ‘wholeness’

Healing the Heart

Perhaps I once thought I knew
what it meant to heal—to be good as new,
to be stitched back together, unbruised,
unblemished, in no pain, repaired.
But what is healing to the heart
when it has lost a beloved?
Surely not to forget the loss happened
the way the lungs forget bronchitis.
Surely not to stop the ache
the way bones reknit and forget
the break. Surely not to shun sadness,
when sadness is the only thing
that makes sense.
Is it strange that deeply broken
is the only way now I feel whole?

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We sit on the carpet in the entry,
and Vivian balances her ring
on the head of the cat and
for a long time we stay like this,
speaking of school and friends
The phone doesn’t ring.
The texts don’t chime.
The afternoon light
seems to hold each thing in its place
like photo corners in a scrapbook
and minutes stretch into forever.
There is a wholeness to the moment
so perfect I almost try to escape it.
Instead I stay and fall deeper
into the pages of this simple story.
A girl. A mother. A cat. An afternoon.
The certainty there’s nowhere else to be.

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Part of me thrills to walk in the woods
and find dozens of old king boletes,
their cinnamon caps stretched and blotched,
the yellow sponge of their underbellies
bloated with rain and dappled with dross,
their stems turned to lace by maggots.
There was a time I felt responsible
for gathering them all to eat them, to dry them,
to share them, lest they go to waste.
As if I could ever gather them all.
As if to bloom and thrive
and return to the earth is a waste.
The mushrooms teach me something
of what it is to show up, to give it all
for the sake of giving it all.
I feel so lucky now to find their dark puddles
as they deliquesce.
Soon, there will be no evidence
they were here at all. I leave the woods
no less broken, more whole.

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Between the cracks of the sidewalk catches

the brown and white detritus of cottonwood.


How useless it looks, the fluff now ratty,

the stems bent and broken. No one takes notice


of it, no one stops to take their pictures

with the waste of seeds that will never make trees.


All the cracks of the world, how they gather

the unwanted, hold with no judgment,


make a home for what is lowly, what drifts.

The cracks, how they keep things whole.

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Accidental Baptism

“Mom,” he says, “come quick.”

He pulls me out on the porch

to stare at the three-quarters moon.

“Mom, don’t you think

it looks purple?”

He says it with such urgency,

such thrill. I can make out

the violet edge and hum

in agreement. For a minute,

we hold each other and stand

in marvelous attention.

The night grass is lit,

a touch of purple in it,

even the dirty socks on the lawn

seem rinsed with light.

There is a wholeness I sometimes

doubt. It’s easier to see

what is broken. But whatever

it is that is whole tonight

has always been whole.

I fall into it like an ocean.

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Your eyes. I used to believe they created me.
One look from you, and I became chalice,
lotus, lioness, crane. Woman. Without your gaze,
I was unformed clay. Your absence, my absence.
It was like some strange twist on what Ptolemy said—
he believed that rays emanate from the eyes,
rays that traverse the air and find the object, allowing
it to be seen. If a woman dances alone in a room,
and you do not see her, is she really dancing?
Does she exist at all?

But Ptolemy was wrong, love, and so was I.
And this is not really the story of photoreceptors
and environmental stimuli. It’s the story
of how we long to be seen—it begins with such
innocence, a longing to please. It’s the story
of how eventually a woman might find herself
dancing for the leaping, whirling pleasure of dancing.

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When I feel lonely, my first thought is that you hold the key to my loneliness. … In the end, seeking only brings us to the edge of knowing ourselves.
—Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening, November 10

Here it is not,
the key I was looking for,
here where I knocked
on beautiful doors,
and ornate doors, and grand
doors, and ancient doors, and
safe doors, and hidden
doors and doors of November.
But here it is,
so close I could hardly
step without walking into it,
this door that has
no lock, no key,
this door
with my own name
on it.

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He cracks himself up. –Julie Cummings

Glue, of course.
Super and Elmer’s
and rubber cement.
Rubber bands.
Scotch tape.
Chicken wire.
A full body cast.
A balancing act.
and hypnotizing.
They told him stories
of how whole he was.
Then offered
St. John’s Wort.
Sublingual B-12.
Calcium citrate
with Vitamin D.
Weeks of physical
therapy. Until
in the end,
Humpty laughed
at them all
and said,
“What a gift
it is to fall.
I love being broken,
it lets in
the light.
See this gold?”
He said,
and then gave it

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It is hard to not resent the ants
and grasshoppers, even though
they are doing the only thing
their bodies know how to do—
to eat what is green as they find it.
They do not know that these greens
are the first pea shoots, that if only
they waited another week or two
there would be thousands more leaves
for the eating and still enough left
for the peas to mature.
But no, they take the first green,
and now in the row against the fence
there are long stretches of nothing
but broken stems and empty earth.
Just today my son asked me
what a mosaic was, and I told him
it was the act of making art
out of broken bits of things.
Wouldn’t it be funny, he said,
if the whole world broke and
we made a mosaic from what was left.
My whole life I have clung
to some idea that the world
could be more whole than it is,
and then today, a twist.
I’m not saying I don’t resent
the ants, the grasshoppers
and their wake of fruitlessness.
I’m just seeing that everything’s broken.
And then there’s the art of the mess.

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