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The decade past

Ten years ago,
we were scratching out our names
on the soft wood of spaces,
that would never belong to us.
Against the grain I know, but we were young,
stumbling through the outlines of joy.
There will be other spaces,
more time, our own sunshine
I hadn’t learnt that yet.

A year later, a different country
A place where I understood the language
but nothing else.
Years were spent making meaning,
in rooms with no windows
and houses with dying dogs.
I watched from inside the soft petals of snow
come down on unused swings.

Few years later, across the coast
someone who didn’t quite know me
turned to me and said – ‘Welcome back’
And for a while I mistook it as – ‘Welcome home’
And I tried to stop the sprint.

It’s taken me yet another ocean to stop running.
Rest, perhaps a little while,
get the legs out of water a little while.
I wish I knew then as I know now,
that you can’t outrun a storm.
That leaving is the storm’s job, not yours.
That if you sit still long enough,
everything eventually passes.

Now a gentle rain, a grand soft day,
Now the clouds beginning to clear.
Even hints of sunshine.
Now I step outside,
Today I want to play.

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Learning new-old ways to spend the day

1.
Live like a recovering alcoholic
collecting coins for the days where the future does not exist, nor past.
You are still here.

2.
Meditate, carefully
Once during a session, my whole world came undone.
You are not meant to be no-one, no-where, and no-thing.

3.
Keep the world on ‘Do not disturb’
Do not despair when it stays quiet.
You asked it to.

4.
Consume everything
No, not teas, meats, words or algorithms.
Feed yourself your own time.

5. 
Lift heavy things,
build the muscle, so you may bear
the weight of all things terrifying.

6.
Wrestle
Pinch, slap, jump
Do the work to un-numb.

7.
Wash your shoes,
the ones under the stairs
always leaving trails of sludge from the outside.

8.
Repair
Call customer service to fix the washer
that leaves all your clothes soaked in saltwater.

9.
Breathe
Practice, drawing infinity in the air,
The time is almost here.

10.
Send letters
Write to your future self
It’s finally safe to dream.

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Stillness

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After Mary Oliver, Today

Language comes from life,
a friend said to me recently
commenting on my regret
for a year without song.

But really, I have waited for years,
for letters to arrive,
for them to make their way to this hold;
this temple; this mountaintop.

Waited reluctantly perhaps, for love,
surely for life, certainly for language;
to come find, me in my stillness,
this new alphabet I’m trying to learn.

Like once, in a repainting, how you found concealed,
a set of doors that you didn’t know existed,
and decided to open them out, having stood folded,
patiently for half a century and more.

So tell me now, shall I have chased it instead?
Like I always have and if so, how do I find out,
if life is in the finding
or being found?

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A river to forget and another to remember

Here again every evening, like a ritual
I hear this ruckus of seagulls,
so far inland and no signs of rain.
I search for the meaning of this anomaly –
I’ve heard this primal dance predicts
some kind of mishap – a storm, perhaps
the ground suddenly moving underneath.
Equally violent and buoyant are
the games we play with our watches.
Trying to find in mythos an escape
and a healing, even though we know
Lethe only flows in the caves of Hades.
Yet we return again and again flying
to the planes of forgetfulness
looking for subsistence in leavings.

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You are free to choose

What is to be done with this new
opening and widening of time,
arriving again on the innocence of choice,
and the violence of loss after.
Like finishing a race she
accidentally entered and won,
and could not care for the prize.
Maybe there will be Greece again,
the guardian of the Tomato museum
who sat motionless and calm
in the face of forgotten histories.
Or a cabin in New England,
its streams covered with sheets of calm,
hiding the madness underneath.
When every direction is equal and fair,
choosing also means abandoning.
Today, she begins with her temporary
manufactured contentment, books of poetry,
sunshine and an empty page.
Which shape will this ink take,
she wonders as the river begins to flow.

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the grace of an ending

It has been snowing for a few hours
and I have watched each snowflake melt
into the ground, existing only for a moment.
We assign great value to things that last
and people that stay and objects
that we can keep forever.
We preserve fruit, harvest roses
and take a million photographs.
When I was younger, I would capture fireflies
in jars and fists and shirt-pockets,
only to find them dying a few hours later.
I wish we talked more about letting things end with grace.
that we had more words for abandon,
and more ways of appreciating love
that looks more like lightening, than like summer
suddenly bright, and already gone.

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It rains all year in Serengeti

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And I’m struck by how easily the profound
& the monumental, live in the same space
as the colorful & the fleeting.

Every afternoon the rains arrive —
even the thunder is quiet here.

Time doesn’t have a fixed unit,
but expands, like the belly of a leopard
perched high after a fresh kill.

Time has the face of satisfied slumber.

The endless afternoons
take up a lifetime & a day
is more pregnant than a decade.

And I am left wondering why anyone
would let themselves be consumed
by anything but the wilderness.


Originally written for The Pastry Box Project

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