Before the Opening

In the day’s last light,
the sunflower stalk,
thick-stemmed and weighted

with burgeoning buds,
shines. It shines. It glows
as golden on the outside

as any petals that hide within,
and for a moment, I find
it easy to believe that they

are the same—what is out,
what is in. All holy. All shining. No difference.
And for a moment, I believe

there is nothing to change.
Nothing left to want but what is.
Even so, I can see

there is so much ready to blossom,
so much potential, so much to be lost
come hail, come frost.

But here in this low-angled light
I’m oddly content. Despite tension. It is easy to bend
in the insistent wind. I dream

I am inside the bud, and I’m pushing
against the green walls.
And I feel myself being tugged between wanting

to stay inside where it’s safe
and this deepening wish to unfold.
And I’m scared. And that’s real.

And I’m thrilled. That’s real, too.
And it’s hard to contain it all.
And I don’t. I forgive what it is

to be human. We spill. We leak.
We unfurl. We blossom. We open.
We fall. We fall. In this moment
I know I am ready to love, I am
willing to risk everything. In this
moment I trust how the skin must break

before the opening.


232-The Twinkling

i'm listening with all my attention
today searching for some sign in the
universe which last night on the science
channel fascinated me for hours with
theories of how we got here and who we
are parallel universes maybe endless
eleven dimensions that are mem-brains 
that have collided to produce this matter
we think is what matters there ar times
i have slipped into a parallel universe
felt myself there in a very familiar place
gone for seconds that seem like hours
and no one sitting beside me even picks
up that i have left for a while to check
out another reality pretty woo-woo
but this mystery that physicists find
so attractive is what makes it so amazing
to be alive i count on so many things
to be beyond these senses to be lurking
beside me ready to appear in the twinkling of a third eye

Practice Makes

Only the atoms of the soul are perfect spheres
with no means of holding on to the world
or perhaps no need for holding on,
—John Glenday, “Concerning the Atoms of the Soul”

All day we practice letting go.
How we hope the cherries
will be riper. But they’re not.

How we almost catch the pitcher
of water before it spills. But we don’t.
How loved ones seem farther away

than a phone call. How contentment
skirts in the shadows of trees, then
rushes away when we enter the glade.

That is not to say there was not happiness
today. The long swim in the river. The pulling
of weeds along the fence’s edge. How

neat the garden rows looked then!
And how red blushed the skin on my lower back
where once again I did not wear sunscreen.

Sigh. And I try to let it go. But there are unseen hooks
in everything, how they catch and snag and cling
to what we thought we wanted, or thought we had to have,

and we are tugged. Stuck. We are burrs in the hems of the day,
not yet able to perfect our fall from imagined grace—
like the perfect way the sun falls with no hitch,

no hindrance, no drag. We are learning to fall,
to fall like that, holding on to nothing, held by nothing.
And part of me believes it could happen—that we could be

content with things as they are. And part of me
fashions new hooks for my sleeves
and sharpens the waiting barbs.

231–After Mid-night

i'm getting a little tired of
sitting up after mid-night
too many times the migraines
grinding down the edges of
all patience fear lurking
behind my eyelids dressed in
some heroine's cape thinking
to save those i love as they
stumble along but the small
ones keep me blindly unable
to sleep at night their tiny
souls sometimes screaming so
loud about life and disappointment
about what they want that isn't
a material blessing though they
have been raised on too many things
small hearts want what large one
pine for that love that sees
their beauty and calls out for the dance

Good Thing We Only Have Two Hands

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit; Where the mind is led forward into ever-widening thought and action—Into that heaven of freedom, let us awake.
—Rabindranath Tagore

In one hand, I hold forgiveness
for all the ways we might have loved
each other but have not. In the other,

I hold nothing. Both hands
look the same. Empty bowls. Not all
emptiness is created equal. Some

helps us listen. Some leaves us lost.
Some carries us toward faith.
Some is a portal. Some is a heron

with ungainly wings trying to find
a place to land. And some emptiness
is something else, impossible to name.

I have tried to understand these things—
instead I am left with two hands full
of empty, one reaching forward,

the other cupped with its fingers apart like
a sieve, a strainer, a leaky bowl.
Nothing stays in it. Not beads

of promise. Not words. Not rain.
Now feels like a good time
to learn to pray.

Now What to Do About the Failed Carrots?

Not one of the onions came up.
Not one. Just a small plot of grass
at the end of the garden where
the long green spears should be.

Of course I was disappointed.
Of course I’d imagined already
my drawers full of red bulbs
and golden shallots, how I would

slice into their pungencies all winter, all spring.
Nothing. And so today, after ripping
the soil again, and again, my son
and I planted there dahlias and marigolds,

white cosmos and pink portulacas,
and some golden flower we could
not pronounce. There will be
no harvest here come fall, but

in the meantime, petals and blossoms,
petals and opening petals and petals
and opening blooms. Some afternoons
we kneel in the dirt, and all we know

is pleasure and salt alchemy of sweat.
Regret finds no place to take root,
and what seemed to be loss
is shown for what it is. Which is loss.

But. And. In the distance,
the thunder grumbles, and in the
garden the sky overhead is blue,
and you almost find yourself wishing

the rain would come and find you.