Posts Tagged ‘words’

for Elizabeth Plamondon Cutler

There is no evidence, says Quora,
that permissioning is a real word.
But last weekend, when a real woman
used permissioning as a real word
to talk about a real practice
of supporting other women
to be their most magnificent selves,
I felt my whole body tingle
with the realness of it.
I had not known how deeply
I wanted this word,
especially the way she said it
as if it were commonplace,
a word as pedestrian
as gift or yes or powerful or true,
the kind of word you could toss out
on a ski trail as if it were as obvious
as snow in winter,
as clear as a Colorado sky,
that we are here to permission each other
to be influential, to be honest,
to be real as trees, real as change,
real as our dreams, our hands,
our fears, real as the words we dare
to speak with our very real voices.

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            Finnish: The feeling when you are going to get drunk home alone in your underwear—with no intention of going out. (pronounced CAHL-sahr-ree-CAN-neet)

Let’s say a woman worked in the garden all day
pulling up old kale and bolted chard and harvesting
potatoes and garlic and onions, and let’s say
her whole evening plan is to stay home
and shower and not get dressed,
and sip on a glass of wine, or whiskey
until she is sweetly light-headed,
well, wouldn’t it be lovely if there were a word
to describe her aspirations? A word
she could write in her calendar to be sure
no other loud plans swooped in. A word
she could say if her friends called and asked
what was happening tonight. And if
no one should call, she could say it to herself
for the joy of saying it—Kalsarikännit—
as she toasted the air, clinking her glass
against all that isn’t there.
And the wind on her skin, so brisk.
And the wine, so heady, so dry.

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Meeting the Holidays

They mean well, of course,
the people who say things
such as, The holidays are hard.

And they’re right. Like not hanging
the blue stocking on the fireplace.
Like not needing to hide the red hots

because there is no one who will steal them.
But these moments are no more difficult
than a Tuesday. No more heartbreaking

than two weeks ago when
my son did not chastise me
for not clicking my heels

before I pulled my snowy feet into the car.
Firsts are hard, people say.
But, sometimes, I notice,

it’s the second that’s harder.
Or the third. Or it’s just all hard.
Or, miraculously, it’s not hard at all.

I am learning to translate
anything anyone says as,
I am holding your heart in mine.

I am learning to meet every day
as a holy day full of sacrifice,
grace and invitation. I am learning

grief is so different for each of us—
sometimes showing up as closed sign
at the door of the inn. Sometimes

showing up as an angel with a message
we can barely understand. Sometimes
showing up as a king with a strange

and fragrant gift reminiscent of sorrowing,
sighing—though it’s woody and warm,
and feels important, perhaps, even wondrous.

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Today, I notice something green
spearing through the dirt
in the garden, and only
because there are eight such spears
rising in perfect rows do I vaguely remember
last year I planted bulbs there,
but I don’t remember what they are.
How much of the beauty we plant
do we forget?

There is so much in me that grows
because of words you have sown.
I doubt you remember them,
I don’t remember them, either,
only that your words were kind
and now they have taken root.

Who knows what the flowers
will look like? I water them, though,
trust I’ll be delighted when they bloom
into a garden of beautiful I don’t know.

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One Divining

using words
as dowsing rods—
there, the current inside

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 My tears mingle with yours and the dry world is watered again.
            —Jude Janett
Parched and dusty,
the inner desert
forgets it was once a wetland.
Barren of confidence,
arid with self-disdain,
it forgets how to grow things
not covered in thorns
and spines.
Then you with your love
reach across the afternoon,
a brief shower of words,
and the whole inner world
remembers how it is to be lush,
to be nurturing, to be green.

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Sometimes when walking

or driving or sitting in a chair,

I thrill to see some words of yours

float through the air—as if

a cartoon thought bubble

cut loose from your thoughts

filled with calibri sweetnesses

and times-new-roman puns—

and I pluck the words

from the sky and wrap them

around my wrist. They bob

above me like a helium balloon—

sometimes I almost believe

could carry me away.

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Beat. Blending. Bolero. Breakaway.

Before bed, my daughter and I

do a word search. The theme:

“Social Dancing.” At the same time

we notice how closely related

Dancing is to Distancing.


The hidden words all snuggle

in their thirteen by thirteen square.

Brush. Cha-cha. Foxtrot. Polka.

They cross each other, touch each other,

overlap, congregate, connect.

Rumba. Samba. Slow Dance. Spin.


How I miss doing what these letters

are doing—getting lost in a crowd,

then emerging less as a self and

more as a spiral turn, upside down

and backwards, or heck,

showing up as a straightforward sway.


Oh I miss that glorious not knowing

where I begin and end, surrounded

by others as we swing, swivel, tango, waltz.



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And when they say, I am going to eat ice cream

until I feel better, perhaps say, What flavor?


And when they say, I am going to cry myself to sleep,

perhaps say, May the night hold you as you cry.


What is it in us that wants to say, Don’t cry?

And since when has trying to stop the tears worked, anyway?


My teacher speaks of the greatest gift:

to give a person themselves.


I think of when I told my friend I did not feel beautiful.

She did not rush to argue with me.


She let me outline my reasons.

She hummed in soft agreement.


Her nods nourished me like a clear lake.

I threw my stones of self-doubt in its waters till it stilled.


So when they say, I feel terrible, perhaps say,

Yes, it is a difficult day. Perhaps add a knowing hum.


Add a nod. A hug if they want it.

And give them their own words,


how they shine like daylight,

bright enough they see, perfectly, themselves.





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Perhaps when we don’t know what to say

we have at last arrived at the one true thing—

and in our thrill to share it with words, dilute it.


It is like the seed, perhaps, that in sprouting

at last understands its purpose, only

now it is no longer a seed.


How easy it is to lose revelation.

Not that it is ever gone—more that it

drops its petals, and we are left


holding an empty stem, trying

to remember how beautiful it was,

failing to see how beautiful it is.

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