Thursday, September 27, 2012

Poem 18 - Barn's burnt down

Here’s a 17th century Japanese example of (a.) the glass being half full, (b.) simplicity is better, (c.) silver linings to every cloud, and/or (d.) knowing what’s important in life.

Oh, if I could only live every moment of my life happy that the barn burned down. 

Barn’s burnt down

Barn’s burnt down—
I can see the moon.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Poem 17 - Temporary Job

This is a wonderful poem about how a temporary situation can become such a part of you that you grieve it when you have to move on.

Temporary Job
Minnie Bruce Pratt

Leaving again. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be
grieving. The particulars of place lodged in me,
like this room I lived in for eleven days,
how I learned the way the sun laid its palm
over the side window in the morning, heavy
light, how I’ll never be held in that hand again.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Poem 16 - Writing

I guess you could say this poem is about legacies—what parents leave behind and what children don’t even know about until it’s too late. It’s a simple poem, played out in the lives of so many men and women, keeping intimate things intimate for fear of ridicule or judgment. It’s a sad poem because the connection should have been made in life, not in the grieving that follows.

Judson Mitcham

But prayer was not enough, after all, for my father.
His last two brothers died five weeks apart.
He couldn’t get to sleep, had no appetite, sat
staring. Though he prayed,
he could find no peace until he tried
to write about his brothers, tell a story
for each one: Perry’s long travail
with the steamfitters’ union, which he worked for;
and Harvey—here the handwriting changes,
he bears down—Harvey loved his children.

I discovered those few sheets of paper
as I looked through my father’s old Bible
on the morning of his funeral. The others
in the family had seen them long ago;
they had all known the story,
and they told me I had not, most probably, because
I am a writer,
and my father was embarrassed by his effort. Yet
who has seen him as I can: risen

in the middle of the night, bending over
the paper, working close
to the heart of all greatness, he is so lost.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


My husband is a jealous man. It’s hard to admit that. It seems shameful. The admission wants to cast a guilty shadow on my life, because what kind of wife, after all, would allow there to be any doubt in a husband’s mind? But if there’s one thing I know about jealousy, it’s that jealousy is the most irrational emotion we are capable of throwing about. It’s the feeling that we can’t have enough, someone else is getting more, and worse, is getting what should be OURS!

I dated a guy once (twice, actually) who seemed to have a crush on another girl the entire time we dated. He was insecure, and his heart was all over the map. He didn’t want to settle for me if she—any she—might be better. And I was stupid. I let it happen. The day he asked me to start dating the second time, he admitted that he’d sent flowers to another girl. She’d said no, and I, stupidly, said yes. I was willing to take the chance on him. I loved him.

Of course it didn’t work out for us, because I was always looking over my shoulder because he was always looking over his. Things ended with a whimper, and we’re both married now, and hopefully we’ve learned our lesson: he needs to keep his heart to home, and I need to respect myself or my mate will have no reason to.

But my husband, he was in my shoes too, but on a grander scale. His first wife ran around, took the kids and left him, came back to him, left, came back, left. It was awful. It’s awful even now, twenty years later. How could a woman do that to a man?

So I guess we’ve both brought these experiences forward.  And if ever there’s a situation that touches our hearts just a teeny tiny bit like those old hurts did, we throw up our wall, and the dark clouds come in, and our partner is stranded on the other side saying, “No, it’s not what you think. You misunderstand. I only love you. I only ever could.”

But like I said, jealousy is irrational. It’s also stubborn and illogical and suspicious. It’s a wild-eyed, quick-footed bully clothed in justification.

A banner at our wedding read “Perfect love casteth out fear.” Love, I know, does not blame the husband, does not blame the ex-wife, does not blame the jealousy.  Even though my love wants to be defensive, and impatient, and unkind, I set about making my love perfect. Making it kinder, and purer, and holier. Because love, perfect love, casteth. Then I set about casting and casting and casting and casting out this fear of his with my perfect love. But no matter how hard I cast, it didn’t do any good. It’s like baling out a boat with a hole bigger than your bucket.

And then I realize, it’s not my love that needs to be perfect. What the situation needs is to welcome in perfect Love. Love with a capital L. God’s perfect love, not mine. Only God’s love is perfect. So we invite perfect Love in, and we hold each other tight, and repeat the best three words we know, and we pray the boat doesn’t sink before the fear is cast out.

And it never does.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Poem 15 - A Blessing

Nothing like a good horse-in-pasture poem about simple blessings. May we all “break into blossom” today!

A Blessing
James Wright

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom

from Above The Water: Complete Poems