One person I knew who has not taken the vaccine has caught a bad case. Now in her third week of illness, my friend does not reach out. I don’t have much news. And another friend, long resisting, took the shot and now reports disrupted concentration, spinal pain, nausea and exhaustion more than a week later; proclaims “I told you so” as allies rally to daily help.
How different all of our experiences are! One body to the next, one mind in such close proximity to its neighbor, all bursting the sea of reality as islands each containing original species. And how similar our dilemma as we watch the horizon, which sends hurricanes and zephyrs and never, itself, draws near. We face this together.
Hello, neighbor. I hope you are well in body and finding tastes of a settled feeling in your soul.
On this path I’ve begun asking myself what I need from the world, and I’ve begun asking why. And I’ve been wondering about the seeds of dissatisfaction and alibis, and how I follow where impulses lead--
and why. I slow down and demystify the feelings I take from tears and laughter when they arise. And I try not to try. I try not to dwell for long on after or before. I don’t get lost in the weeds.
I try not to try, and I don’t have to succeed. I’ve begun to take it lightly when I flail—to say it’s just a draft or a gift for the compost pile, and rightly. I began a long time ago to die.
I drop hold of each day’s motions nightly, and I’ve begun to wake in strange delight.
Living in the illness
The fever shook the old man and we felt the floor move trying to believe it. Let’s be frank; we have no time to be pretty. The stark sun paints our blood red and makes tear-streaked faces shine. Outside this window and the window of every suffering soul lucky enough to have a window, the earth spins day into night, heat into chill, and the world the old man built, and the worlds we put our hearts into crumble, stale cake on a small table beside the bed.
The heart does this, and still the lungs fill with air and empty again. It’s the same everywhere, and when we find the foyer quiet, then the mind decides to calm itself. For a moment — there -- an invisible tide pulls at us with a tiny, tender magnetism, a mother love enfolding us in our innocent longing to be reached.
I spin with you. You shake with me. The end comes every moment. If we look beyond the resting body, out the window, we know the world is with us, unconditionally holding us with no promise ever made nor broken.
A Visitor Called Sadly
A certain kind of Sadly seemed to seep into my soul. I knew because I noticed a heavy, heart-shaped hole.
I stepped inside the heaviness. My breath blew out a tad. I heard the Sadly’s message. The message was: “I’m sad.”
My sense of awful heightened. My eyes went warm and wet. My belly dropped and tightened-- I could feel it felt upset.
But I sat there with the Sadly, and I watched it gently cry, and I felt it in my body until our tears went dry.
And then I saw a window, a warming ray of sun; and inside came a lightness that felt like feeling done.
I reached out to the Sadly that came in so bereft, but the heavy hole had vanished and the sadly simply left.
And now I think I understand what made the Sadly melt. It wanted to be sat with. It needed to be felt.
I leave a doorway open, a heart-shaped passageway in case the Sadly comes again. I think it knows it may.
We are just passing through Published by Poetry Pacific (forthcoming, November 2018)
The one who shakes IS the shaking.
A person can turn into a shout in the woods or a long spill of loud tears. We shake to give ourselves birth.
The saints ask outright for what they want: 'Put your hand on my forehead.' 'Lay myself down.' 'Go away!' 'Water, please.'
The saints only answer yes-no questions; The saints only answer yes.
After the party From One Way to Ask (Norfolk Press, 2016) And published in Wisdom Crieth Without, May 2013
My friends visit, and I feast, storing up memories, storing up memories for when they’re gone and I stand by the cupboard with my hands, with my hands talking over each other like they do when thoughts rupture
so fast over my head. If forever were mine, I would be still as a painting and reach the exquisite end of wonder. Wonder why. Now my hands are recalling their American faces. I suppose
we’re the same around the world—but being understood at last! Mother, I’ll return. Mother, I’ll return, but first I’m knitting this unforgettable, missing garment from the way my friends are no longer here.
My hands knitting in the Sri Lankan sun, knitting what’s gone, knitting what’s not yet gone.