Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’

            with thanks to Joi Sharp

When my teacher told me
Everything we love can
and will be taken from us,

I did not know how she
was preparing in me
a synaptic path.

I understood her words
in the way one understands a journey
by reading a map.

Now, ten years later, with every breath
I travel this path of loss
as so many others have before me,

and yet there is no trail, no signposts,
no destination, and the path changes direction
from moment to moment.

But the path does not feel foreign.
Every turn of it is paved with truth—
Everything we love can and will be taken from us.

Those words now offer
the strange comfort of prophecy
as I wander these trails of impermanence,

stunned with gratitude even as I weep,
alive with loving what doesn’t last,
astonished by the enormity of love—

how love is the red thread that pulls us through,
not a thread to follow,
but a guide that never, ever leaves the path.

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And because she is wise

in the ways the young are,

my daughter, frightened and weeping,

asked between sobs

for a happy story.


There are times when a story

is the best remedy—

not because it takes us away

from the truth but because

it leads us closer in.


I told her the story of her birth,

and we laughed until

it was my turn to cry as I realized

no matter how scary the world,

what a miracle, the birth of a child.


Then, as fear made a sneaky return,

we whispered a list of things we

were grateful for, falling asleep with these

words on our breaths: cats, books, rivers,

home, family, soft blankets, music.

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Day One




“You know,” says the old man,

“all those corny old sayings are true.”


We are seaside in Bristol at a playground.

My children squeal and chase each other


and I am lost in global thoughts of should and should not,

forgiveness and pride, and who did what


first to whom, and the old man does two pull ups

on the monkey bars. His dress shoes and red socks


dangle beneath him as he lifts and drops, lifts

and drops. Mid-seventies, I guess.


“You can do it, too,” he says, smiling at me.

“No,” I say, “I can’t do it.”


“Today,” he says, “you just hang and pull.

You might not think you move at all.


Then, tomorrow, you’ll be a little higher.

In five days, your chin will be up at the bar.”


Sometimes we guard ourselves with an armor of no,

but hiding inside is a glimmer of yes that,


given any encouragement at all, will grow

into a willingness to be vulnerable.


“Okay,” I say, “I will try it.”

I stand beneath the bars, and raise


my arms and grip the metal and pull.

Nothing happens. “First,” he says,


“you have to believe you can do it.”

I fight to not roll my eyes, but


I tense my arms again and try,

and I move up the slightest bit.


He smiles. “You know what they say,

before you can take the second step


you have to take the first.” Again,

I pull up and feel myself lift,

perhaps an inch. For this moment,


I almost believe anything could happen, given time.

Like a woman who could not lift her own weight


could do so. And a nation that would not forgive

could love. And one stranger with a smile


and some old wisdom could open the minds

of the people he meets, one pull up at a time.



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