It could be the letter never answered,
the one in which you declared your love
in such a tender way, admitting to every-
thing. Or when the shell you brought all
the way from the Philippines is dropped
by some loud stranger you never wanted
to show it to in the first place. It could all
unravel the moment the shell shatters on
your floor. Or on a summer bench, your
eyes closed, your fear about to vanish, the
heat bathing you as bees begin to fly.
It could happen anywhere you linger
too long, anywhere you stop hauling and
counting, when your mind spills its tangle
of lists. Often it comes with the relaxation
of great pain. When the hip finally mends
enough to step. Or your need to know
is broken by a bird lifting into light.
Or when succeeding in being something
you’re not. Being influential when you’re
shy. Or rugged when you’re tender.
Or while watching an old tree slip into
winter, like the one thing you won’t let
go of dropping all its leaves.
When the elements in all their beauty
reshape our eyes, it is God’s kiss: gentle
as erosion. When you could crumble in
an instant—all your pain, salt waiting
for a wave—you are close.
by Jane Hirshfield
Morning of buttered toast;
of coffee, sweetened, with milk.
Out the window,
snow-spruces step from their cobwebs.
Flurry of chickadees, feeding then gone.
A single cardinal stipples an empty branch—
one maple leaf lifted back.
I turn my blessings like photographs into the light;
over my shoulder the god of Not-Yet looks on:
Not-yet-dead, not-yet-lost, not-yet-taken.
Ample litany, sparing nothing I hate or love,
not-yet-silenced, not-yet-fractured; not-yet-
I move my ear a little closer to that humming figure,
I ask him only to stay.
some weeks, some days, some hours, some minutes…. are easier than others. on these days that i am so ill that all i do is lie under the symptoms, it can be so hard to endure. & being so alone is so hard as well. i have so little human contact. sometimes, even if i can’t talk, it would be so nice to have someone sit with me. it’s impossible to describe what ME is like & what it is like to belong to no one. every day i give thanks for the few people who have remained in my life. & who help me to survive by providing basic needs like food. & pay the bills. & take me to doctor’s appointments.
my dog has been gone all week as well with her no longer new family. i miss her. & that’s hard, but i am grateful i have her when they are at work. just having another living being in the house helps me.
now i head back into nothingness as i get ready for bed. bow my head. give thanks for another day. & another night. on this earth. amen.
“just make us be brave, make us play nice, let us be together tonight…”
“…Then something happens that totally sucks, and we are in a new box, and it is like changing into clothes that don’t fit, that we hate. Yet the essence remains. Essence is malleable, fluid. Everything we lose is Buddhist truth — one more thing that you don’t have to grab with your death grip, and protect from theft or decay. It’s gone. We can mourn it, but we don’t have to get down in the grave with it…”
by Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.