April is National Poetry Writing Month, or NaPoWriMo. It’s taken me a bit to get my bearings after the ten-ring circus that was spring break/Holy Week. I was very happy this poem pushed its way into my head while I was otherwise occupied with driving.
smooth as sin
you wouldn’t know
if it weren’t a darker
shade of pink
When I was a young production editor, I fretted over the minute errors that inevitably show up in even the most thoroughly proofed text. One wise author told me certain cultures traditionally held that flaws in one’s handiwork were openings through which the spirit entered. Something that might be seen as imperfection could instead be seen as an invitation to the sacred.
Better than new
over time we found
it was not so bad to be broken
some times the mended places were stronger
and some times they opened us
to one another, to life, to depths
of pain and joy that perfect wholeness
did not experience – in this we followed
the example of the One Who saw
in brokenness the best way
to heal the world
Thank goodness for the recursive nature of these forty days, for the promise of turning and returning that will eventually lead me t0, as the song says, “come ’round right.”
In the video are a cat, a turtle, and a pillar. The quicker
cat comes up unseen behind the turtle, often
unable to resist patting it on the carapace before leaping
back to the far side of the pillar. The turtle turns, catches
a glimpse of tail, and strides after it with purpose. Round and round
they go, sometimes completely circling the pillar before
the cat taps the turtle and the game reverses.
I likewise ponderously pursue something so far
beyond me that I only perceive it from the corner
of my eye. Sometimes I feel its feather touch on the hard shell
I carry and change direction in my desire to move
always toward whatever wondrous mystery it is
that seems at the same time to be chasing me.
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.” (Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki) I pray each day to be given a beginner’s mind, both as a writer and as a human being.
Each time I sit down before the blank page
I am a beginner; every time is the first time
No one has written this, not even I
It is as new as I am new to writing it
So each poem, each day, each breath
Is a gift, a chance to start from scratch
Sometimes we are driven by something beyond our comprehension. In such moments, it is not difficult to believe in demons.
It’s more than just emptiness, he said, or even a sense
something is missing. It’s as though you are
being eaten from the inside out, that whatever it is
you need will gnaw you hollow and leave you
a howling shell.
According to rabbinical tradition, forty represents the time it takes for something to move from beginning to fulfillment or completion. This number occurs many times in the sacred stories of all three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Carried to term
We drift in amniotic waters forty weeks before
we are ready to be born. We floated forty years
in Sinai dust, an embryonic people in a desert
womb. Forty, the number of completion: forty
years — a lifetime — before we were ready
to break the waters of the Jordan and enter
the world something new, as a people
delivered by God.
The order of things in not always what we expect it to be. I’ve come to appreciate that this is very often a good thing.
Leading and following walk
hand in hand through the world. Evening leads
morning into the new day. Mercy follows
judgment, which leads to grace.
Sometimes the best leaders are those who know
first how to follow.