shadow past

Nothing Twice by Wislawa Szymborska

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.

Even if there is no one dumber,
if you’re the planet’s biggest dunce,
you can’t repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses.

One day, perhaps some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.

The next day, though you’re here with me,
I can’t help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is it a flower or a rock?

Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It’s in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.

With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we’re different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.
iris portrait

Adrienne Rich "What Kind of Times Are These"

There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about trees.
alone

Because one day of Thanksgiving isn't enough (7 of 7)

Normally, this is a once-a-day gratitude practice for the week of Thanksgiving, but November was hard.

I'm grateful for change and the knowledge that what's difficult today will not always be difficult. Of course, new difficulties will arise, and there's every chance that today's challenges will grow even larger in coming days, but the fact of change means that nothing is forever, and that fact is the key to the door of hope. I'm stashing that key in my locket for all those times when I need it.
tree gaze

Because one day of Thanksgiving isn't enough (5 of 7)

Today, I'm thankful for nature, and its inescapableness. There are times, of course, when that's harder to appreciate -- that swelteringly hot summer day, or the bone chilling blustery wet winds of the shoulder seasons -- but I love the rhythms of the seasons, and coming to know how they take shape year to year in a place that I've lived long enough to start to see some micro local patterns: where the shadow keeps the grass greener, or the long autumn sunlight filters through fluffed up seed pods, richly golden.

I'm grateful for the way that even in this most human of environments, living in the city, nature makes herself known, in small ways and large, always offering perspective and solace.
tree gaze

Because one day of Thanksgiving isn't enough (4 of 7)

I'm thankful for the friendship I had with contessagrrl. It was uniquely wonderful in what she and I brought out in each other, in how we could join together in fun and play and delight in the world, in our fellow humans, in taking big bites of experience together.

She opened my mind and my world of experience more than any one other person in my adult life, not through any particular effort on her part, but by being who she was, and giving me the opportunity time and again to say yes to something new.

There's so much to miss about her, and I've been missing it for a long time, due to the effects of PTSD on her interior world and what that meant in our friendship, but I always imagined we would find our way back to each other somehow in the future, and I'm so sad to have that taken away from us. But more importantly, I'm so sad that she doesn't get to return to the world with her love of life renewed, as she worked so hard to do.

That's the thing that I think will always be the biggest part of my memories of her: that love of life, of exploration, of humans, of hedonism paired with a deep longing to be better.

I am thankful for her.
cosmic

Because one day of Thanksgiving isn't enough (3 of 7)

I am thankful for activists. I'm so goddamn thankful that there are people who push the edges further, to make our society and institutions more supportive of humanity, life, the planet, compassion, sustainability ...

People are fond of saying that the arc of history bends toward justice, like that's something that magically just happens, as if people are just good without having to struggle with difficult choices and dangerous endeavors. The arc of history bends toward justice because individual humans decide to work together to pull it that way against the insular fear and tribalism that competition for resources and petty little minds so easily foment.

I'm thankful for the people who came before me who pulled that arc toward them a little bit farther, and for the people today who continue to put their weight into that effort. The world is better for that kind of work.
roots

Because one day of Thanksgiving isn't enough (2 of 7)

Today, I'm giving thanks for people who expand my notion of myself, who hold me to high standards, who bring out the best in me, and who allow me to do the same for them. I love the way so many people I know strive, and therefore inspire me to strive also. We hold each other up with our work to climb higher ourselves, helping each other save our own lives, and sometimes those of others, in as many ways as we can. This process is so humanly imperfect and messy, and is the root of my best relationships. What a gift.
shadow past

Because one day of Thanksgiving isn't enough (1 of 7)

It's pretty hard to feel thankful this year. In the last two weeks, contessagrrl died suddenly and unexpectedly, and Trump was elected.

But in dark times, hope shines the light of a way forward, so I'm starting out this week's gratitudes for hope. It springs eternal, the green bud of the crocus pushing through the snow banks, not promising that winter is over, but promising that it will end.

I don't know where we're going from here, but I know I'm bringing hope with me, and that's what has me putting each foot in front of the other for now.
alone

Affirmation by Assata Shakur

“Affirmation” by Assata Shakur
___
I believe in living.
I believe in the spectrum
of Beta days and Gamma people.
I believe in sunshine.
In windmills and waterfalls,
tricycles and rocking chairs.
And i believe that seeds grow into sprouts.
And sprouts grow into trees.
I believe in the magic of the hands.
And in the wisdom of the eyes.
I believe in rain and tears.
And in the blood of infinity.

I believe in life.
And i have seen the death parade
march through the torso of the earth,
sculpting mud bodies in its path.
I have seen the destruction of the daylight,
and seen bloodthirsty maggots
prayed to and saluted.

I have seen the kind become the blind
and the blind become the bind
in one easy lesson.
I have walked on cut glass.
I have eaten crow and blunder bread
and breathed the stench of indifference.

I have been locked by the lawless.
Handcuffed by the haters.
Gagged by the greedy.
And, if i know any thing at all,
it’s that a wall is just a wall
and nothing more at all.
It can be broken down.

I believe in living.
I believe in birth.
I believe in the sweat of love
and in the fire of truth.

And i believe that a lost ship,
steered by tired, seasick sailors,
can still be guided home
to port.