"Poetry is what makes the invisible appear." ---Nathalie Sarraute
"If I knew where poems came from, I'd go there." Michael Longley
"Spend the day with yourself
Let nothing distress you
A person emerges so young and so old
You can't know how long it has lived in you." ---Sophia De Mello Breyner, "Day"
"Poetry can tell us what human beings are. In can tell us why we stumble and fall and how, miraculously, we can stand up." ---Maya Angelou
Because the moon feels loved, she lets our eyes
follow her across the field, stepping
from her clothes, strewn silk
glinting in furrows. Feeling loved, the moon loves
to be looked at . . .
Her sister, memory, browses the closet
for clothes carrying someone's shape.
She wipes her hands on an apron
stained with childhood.
From: “Skin Divers” by Anne Michaels
The Lightest Touch
Good poetry begins with
the lightest touch,
a breeze arriving from nowhere,
a whispered healing arrival,
a word in your ear,
a settling into things,
then like a hand in the dark
it arrests the whole body,
steeling you for revelation.
In the silence that follows a great line
you can feel Lazarus
even the laziest, most deathly afraid
part of you,
lift up his hands and walk toward the light.
-- David Whyte, from Everything is Waiting for You
"i shall paint my nails red"
by carole satyamurti
because a bit of a color is a public service
because I am proud of my hands.
because it will remind me I'm a woman.
because I will look like a survivor.
because I can admire them in traffic jams
because my daughter will say ugh.
because my lover will be surprised.
because it is quicker than dying my hair.
because it is a ten-minute moratorium.
because it is reversible.
The Opening of Eyes
That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.
It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.
It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.
-- David Whyte, from Songs for Coming Home
“There are nights in the forest of words
when I panic, every step into thicker darkness,
the only way out to write myself into a clearing,
which is silence.” ---From, “What the Light Teaches” by Anne Michaels
The trees ahead and the bushes beside you are not lost.
Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still.
The forest knows Where you are.
You must let it find you.
---An old Native American elder story rendered into modern English by David Whyte
What to Remember When Waking
In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.
What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.
To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.
You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.
Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?
Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?