Days

Each one is a gift, no doubt,
mysteriously placed in your waking hand
or set upon your forehead
moments before you open your eyes.

Today begins cold and bright,
the ground heavy with snow
and the thick masonry of ice,
the sun glinting off the turrets of clouds.

Through the calm eye of the window
everything is in its place
but so precariously
this day might be resting somehow

on the one before it,
all the days of the past stacked high
like the impossible tower of dishes
entertainers used to build on stage.

No wonder you find yourself
perched on the top of a tall ladder
hoping to add one more.
Just another Wednesday,

you whisper,
then holding your breath,
place this cup on yesterday’s saucer
without the slightest clink.

~Billy Collins

Meditation before the Kaddish

When I die give what’s left of me away
to children and old men that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
cry for your brother walking the street beside you.
And when you need me, put your arms around anyone
and give them what you need to give me.

I want to leave you something,
something better than words or sounds.
Look for me in the people I’ve known or loved,
and if you cannot give me away,
at least let me live in your eyes and not in your mind.

You can love me best by letting hands touch hands,
and by letting go of children that need to be free.
Love doesn’t die, people do.
So, when all that’s left of me is love,
give me away.

It might be the Lexapro

Before I had cancer
I knew I wouldn’t live forever, but thought maybe I might
I cared what other people thought
and daily
thanked my feet for carrying me
my kidneys for doing their job

and almost always ate my vegetables.

When I had cancer
I feared I might not live at all
and my eyes cried for days,
and I realized I didn’t really care even what
I thought
much less anyone else

and my body felt like a time bomb (traitor) that only I could hear.

After I had cancer
I stopped living all of my unlived lives
and realized that having always done my best
was, actually, having done enough
and I ran into something I didn’t recognize,
but It felt a little like joy

of course, it might be the Lexapro.

But sometimes it seems I’m crying still
in dreams I don’t remember.

“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”
~D.H.Lawrence; Lady Chatterly’s Lover

testament

One of the most beautiful testaments to love I’ve ever read — Pip to Estella in Great Expectations:

“…You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since—on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to be displaced by your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But, in this separation I associate you only with the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!”

nOtes from a burned journal

no
thing
not
hing
noth
ing
nothi
ng
nothin
g
nothing
takes as much space as 

nothing

     n O thing

you say I don’t hear you
but that’s because I’m
listening so hard to all the 
things
you don’t say

***

like that maybe we both realize that you don’t need it as much as I do

you made me a promise once
and now you don’t keep it —
not because you can’t
but because it doesn’t occur to you

   ***

I will not take up only the amount of space
you have apportioned for me
I will not lower my voice, nor
my expectations
I will not trade “let’s do this” for “it can’t be done.”
I will
not.

   ***

I read back over seven years of a journal
and I sound like such a child.

I should just burn the whole thing. 
In fact, I think I will.

***

Sometimes I’d like to start
everything over

***

They were having some silly argument, he couldn’t even tell you what it was about, but then he asked, “but you tell me everything, don’t you?” and she laughed. And he said “don’t you?” And she said “no” And she laughed again. And then he said “half?” And she laughed again and shook her head, just slightly, and he said, “25%?” And she said “10. Maybe. Probably. Yeah, 10.” And he said “but why don’t you tell me everything?” and she said “you couldn’t handle it.” He remembered that part.

***

You make the past mean something different
by what you make of what comes after.

***

The clouds billowed toward me,
tumultuously, lugubrious, if such a thing is possible,
like the roil of boiling water
viewed in slow motion.

I pedalled determinedly,
the bag of blueberies
knocking against my knee
marking the seconds
between strobe flash and resultant
thunder.

When I returned
dry and winded
we leaned in the landing window
shoulder to shoulder hip to hip
and felt the house exhale
as drops of rain
rattled like stones on the driveway.

***

by Constance Merritt

Lying

awake at 4 a.m.
whatever the space beside you holds
you are yourself alone

and whatever there is of truth
turning in crevices light can’t touch
it must be that which wakes you
*
in a quiet room a woman works
arranging words, a world
where she might live

it changes little day to day
but the mind is changed
as light changes, as the leaves turn

and whatever holds that space inside her
it is so much harder, vaster, colder
than this near mortal, however breathing,
however loved.