but i see you are special
your plainness comforts
real strength is gentle
it’s quiet as dew on grass
steadfast as redwoods
despite knowing better, there’ve been times in my life i’ve waited for rescue. sometimes i still do. i wish i were as unerringly courageous and wise as a jane austen heroine, but then i remember, jane’s characters often learned through their own prideful mistakes. lessons usually delivered crisply via handwritten letter on a silver tray or at a country ball on a warm summer night.
i’ve been rescued more than once, been thrown just the right line at the exact right time. a much better job when i’d just quit one without another lined up. the exact right words of advice, kindly delivered, when i was too untethered to trust myself, too lost and self-absorbed to see anything beyond my own claustrophobic world view.
i’m better now, better all the time, at kicking myself in the behind when i realize i’m waiting for forces outside me to fix my life. it may be a self-help cliche, but it’s a true one. a useful one.
we’re lucky if we have a handful of people who can be there for us in the moments we waver. because, truly, the world at large is indifferent. and yet, every day is fresh-scrubbed for us, presented to us like the bluest sky.
into the mountains we went
to pick tart sweetness
somewhere along the line i developed patience. it was hard won. now, on the inside, the process of patience is like endurance training. it doesn’t mean i don’t want to decamp, depart, say f. you, buddy, i am out of here. instead, i observe, take in, wait, go for a walk. but never does patience mean passive. it means i take my seat and detach from big and small madness around me. it is not mine. i’ve often tried, to great eventual hilarity mostly to me, to be sweet zen woman, sans heat that might light you up, or might burn you, but that is not me. yes, i have mostly got a grip on the thing they call equipoise, centering yourself in the eye of any storm. but it is not without a flame. i bank the fires, not because i am holding them back, but because they fuel me, onward. without need of a show. fire gives us a backbone, it lets us recklessly burn the undergrowth, to a simpler, more beautiful order.
no one gives us the things we need most to breathe, to rest, to feel true quiet on the inside. to feel truly ourselves. to be free.
again and again, we learn and relearn. it’s humbling.
i sometimes feel shame when i stumble due an aspect of myself i thought i’d conquered. but there is no real conquering, ever. there is only recognizing an old, wrong road and turning back, knowing that because you are human, you very well may see it again.
there is no protecting oneself from anything. not in a life that has any vivid color or epic sound or intoxicating embrace. there is only faith in your own eventual knowing how to give way, to be carried.
when you are old - william butler yeats
dover beach - matthew arnold
to myself - w.s. merwin
sara - bob dylan
mid-august at sourdough mountain lookout - gary snyder
lullaby - w.h. auden
the mountains in the desert - robert creeley
things - jorge luis borges
this is just to say - william carlos williams
nothing gold can stay - robert frost
autumn leaves gather
time for fine wale corduroy
and spiced apple cake
perfect has been sidling up against me again.
it’s been years and he doesn’t yet understand that i am not the same girl, that the light in the parking lot in winter accentuates the cap on his front tooth.
perfect bores me so. he shows up in many distracting guises, but his demands are always along the same molasses vein.
perfect is the man at work who believes his vision is singular in all the history of the world and never questions that i believe that, too.
he is the date who believes by being good (or being bad) that i will be duly swayed.
the truth is, perfect has become what moves my heart. he unfolds the fresh, pink tissue paper. he reminds me to breathe the eucalyptus in and notice the sidewalk after a fresh rain.
he isn’t a feeling i can enact or wish or ‘work on’ or make so.
i don’t turn my face to a particular angle for perfect anymore. he knows when to catch me at rest.
1. headley grange, england, circa 1970 for the recording of led zeppelin’s best album, physical graffiti. haunted manse + young rock gods = magic laid down
2. my great grandparents’ sweden, where i imagine homemade butter, cardamom laced cookies, and cozy cottages lit from within
3. rudolf valentino’s falcon lair estate in l.a.’s benedict canyon
4. neil young’s ranch (anytime, really…i’m flexible)
5. san francisco, 1967
6. greta garbo’s apartment in manhattan
7. my mother’s los angeles, 1960s
8. on the set of the philadelphia story with cary grant, jimmy stewart, and katharine hepburn
9. catherine deneuve’s paris
10. big sur in the 1970s