Poetry and Prose
Where I’m from, people still wave
to each other, and if someone doesn’t,
you might say of her, She wouldn’t
wave at you to save her life—
but you try anyway, give her a smile.
This is just one of the many ways
we take care of one another, say: I see you,
I feel you, I know you are real. I wave
to Rick who picks up litter while walking
his black labs, Olive and Basil—
hauling donut boxes, cigarette packs
and countless beer cans out of the brush
beside the road. And I say hello
to Christy, who leaves almond croissants
in our mailbox and mason jars of fresh-
pressed apple cider on our side porch.
I stop to check in on my mother-in-law—
more like a second mother—who buys us
toothpaste when it’s on sale, and calls
if an unfamiliar car is parked at our house.
We are going to have to return to this
way of life, this giving without expectation,
this loving without conditions. We need
to stand eye to eye again, and keep asking—
no matter how busy—How are you,
how’s your wife, how’s your knee?, making
this talk we insist on calling small,
though kindness is what keeps us alive.
At first we just say flower. How
thrilling it is to name. Then it’s
aster. Begonia. Chrysanthemum.
We spend our childhood learning
to separate one thing from another.
Daffodil. Edelweiss. Fern. We learn
which have five petals, which have six.
We say, “This is a gladiolus, this hyacinth.”
And we fracture the world into separate
identities. Iris. Jasmine. Lavender.
Divorcing the world into singular bits.
And then, when we know how to tell
one thing from another, perhaps
at last we feel the tug to see not
what makes things different, but
what makes things the same. Perhaps
we feel the pleasure that comes
when we start to blur the lines—
and once again everything
is flower, and by everything,
I mean everything.
-Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
I miss you, fellow walkers – dad with double stroller,
rainbow legging woman, earnest black hound hauling
graybeard man on a never-slack leash.
I miss the Marc’s check-out clerk with three nose rings,
bitten nails, sardonic asides.
Miss the librarian whose voice is soft as my mother’s was
back when I sobbed myself weak, her hand
stroking my hair while she looked out the window.
Wherever you are now, I wish you well. Cast light around you
each night before sleep. I want your granny to pull through,
your job to stick around, your landlord to grant you
every dispensation. I want flowers
to sprout in your garbage, old milk to turn into yogurt.
May your junk mail transform into loans forgiven,
scholarships granted, grievances forgotten.
May we see each other soon, smile in recognition,
reimagine a world where we all breathe free.
-Laura Grace Weldon
We can’t believe our luck:
to have found this
pair of pears on the ground
in the grass, in the abandoned
orchard late in the year, spared
as if by fate, unmarred and,
we tell ourselves, ours.
Furtively, we seize them,
glancing sidelong like thieves,
rubbing them against our shirts,
our palms, inhaling the faint
perfume of their ripeness before
biting in—like savages, we imagine,
though imagining makes us not,
makes us the self-conscious creatures
we are, knowing full-well
we have done nothing to earn this,
do not deserve it, but that
the pleasure we take makes us
worthy of taking, our happiness
a form of gratitude, refusing grace
a blasphemy more grave than greed.
Left alone, they would go to waste.
Kept for later they would bruise and rot.
Now is the only time for joy. Here
the only place. And you, My Love,
are the only one—so let us eat, and praise,
and walk among these gnarled trees
before we lie beneath them.
Every moment you have a choice
to be absent or to be present
to be elsewhere or to be here.
Elsewhere is the place where doubt and regret live -
a dull grey netherworld,
full of the ghosts of past events
and shadows of the future.
Elsewhere is the place where fear thrives -
an endless open plain, full of risks and threats
where you’re always exposed, like an animal
that’s hunted by a thousand different predators.
Elsewhere is the place where desires grow -
a desert full of mirages
that tempt you with ambitions that can't fulfil you
and pleasures that can't satisfy you
and in the end you’re left gasping and panting
with a thirst that can't be quenched.
But here is a bright spring morning
where the whole world stands pristine and clear
and each moment is sufficient to itself
and there is nothing that lives or grows
apart from what is, and was meant to be.
Here is a beautiful landscape
of translucent light and infinite space
and deep rich colours and perfect forms
and endless intricate details -
a masterpiece that is freshly painted every moment.
Here there is no lack, only the wholeness of what is now.
Here there is no doubt, only the certainty of now.
Here there is no complexity, only the simple truth of now.
So why choose absence, when you can be present?
Why be elsewhere when you can be here?
There is a secret place, a radiant sanctuary
This magnificent refuge is inside of you
Be brave and walk through the country of your own wild heart
Be gentle and know that you know nothing
Be still, listen, keep walking
No one else controls access to this perfect place
Give yourself your own unconditional permission to go there
Waste no time, enter the center of your soul
-St. Teresa of Avila
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each as been sent
as a guide from beyond”.