Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Thing Is

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.


Ellen Bass

After A While/Comes the Dawn

After awhile you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn that love doesn’t mean possession
and company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up
and your eyes ahead
with the grace of an adult not the grief of a child.

And you learn to build your roads today
because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have ways of falling down in mid-flight.

After awhile you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much
so you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure
that you really are strong
and you really do have worth
and you learn and you learn…with every goodbye you learn.

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