If You Knew

What if you knew you’d be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line’s crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn’t signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won’t say Thank you, I don’t remember
they’re going to die.

A friend told me she’d been with her aunt.
They’d just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt’s powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon’s spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?
-Ellen Bass

hrt2

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Keeping Quiet

Now we will all count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

                        -Pablo Neruda

We have no reason to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us. If it has terrors, they are our terrors; if it has abysses, these abysses belong to us; if there are dangers, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as the most alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience. How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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Dear Human

WI3 (3)

Dear Human: You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of…messing up. Often. You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU. It’s enough. It’s Plenty.

~attributed to Courtney A. Walsh.

 

When you have picked the shards of glass out of your bloodstream, carefully, and packed away your sorrows in their boxes, one by one, don’t hide them in the attic. They will grow cobwebs there. They will take up space. Sooner or later you will trip over them. Give them to the bonfire or the junk sale, because their usefulness is done.

Your pain is the consequence of being human. It is a sign you have reached some limit in yourself you must respect. When you run too far, it is the ache in your legs that will tell you to stop. When you are too tired, or too lost or you are hurting, it is the ache in your heart which tells you that it is too much.

Rest.

Give yourself sustenance in whatever form you need it. Find peace in music and books, or in kisses and laughter and in other people. Eat good food, and drink more water than tea, but hopefully still enough of the second. Sleep if you can. Grow something: A cactus or a flower or a project. Be kind to who you are.

If something you need is missing, close your eyes and picture it. Imagine it for yourself, because you are a joyful painter with the finest paint palette that ever was, and the whole canvas of your mind is waiting.

Let yourself cry. Tears do not waste themselves. They are like tree sap; a consequence of pressure building up and they flow out of injuries, of all kinds. They release the pressure, a little, and they aid in your healing.

You may be afraid but that is just the part of you that wants to protect you reminding you that it is there. It is guarding you well. You may feel small but you are bound to sometimes, because you dream in ways that would seem vast to any giant.

Don’t be too disheartened. Ants can recognise their own faces in a mirror. An Octopus can unscrew the lid of a jar, from the inside, if you let it. There are people making centrifuges out of paper. The ozone layer is repairing itself. There are nearly a thousand different types of cheeses in existence. The world is worthwhile, even though it contains some terrible things. Life is, too.

You are so lovely, even when you don’t believe it.

Sarah-Louise Jordan

 

Sarah-Louise Jordan
Ink in Strange Places