It Is All Us

two girls in a grassy fieldLast year (i.e., a couple of weeks ago), I was sitting with my daughter in an Indian restaurant, where, it now seems to me, we were in a contest over which of us was going to eat more of the bowl of hot chili sauce that had been brought to the table. While we were there, she also played me a short video on her phone of a man reciting a poem that she liked. I don’t remember what it was, or who he was, and maybe it was partly the way he recited it, but the poem caught my attention and made me want to write something under its influence.

What I ended up with is below. I’m sure I didn’t come near to imitating my model, but this was as close as I could get. Nevertheless, I’ve had some positive reactions to this poem, which emboldens me to put it here. And if it is not to your taste, well, God bless you for having taste in the first place.

We Can Do This

Take my hand
and we can do this.
We can look at a world on fire around us
and see people walking in green spaces.
Instead of broken bricks and hearts,
we can see parks laid out in curving lines,
with benches for resting,
ponds for fish and birds,
and sloping hills for children to roll down.

Take my hand
and we can do this.
We can find those who are ill and pale
and lift them into the bold optimism of health.
We can watch sick children stand,
hands out for toys,
unsure of why they were lying down in the first place.

Take my hand
and we can do this.
We can calm harsh and broken breathing
until it flows like clouds across a quiet sky.
We can hear our own breath move in like peace,
and move out like the healing of spirits.
We can learn to breathe in ways
that show us what is hidden.

Take my hand
and we can do this.
We can hear music when children shout,
people say hello on the street,
store clerks greet customers,
friends talk at dinner,
wives and husbands whisper of things,
old people talk about that day long ago,
and we can hear music
when our own voices speak.

Take my hand
and we can do this.
We can see art when the wind blows,
turning tall grass into magic wands,
with a spell on the end of each.
We can feel art by touching a cold window,
recognizing the magic of two worlds,
one inside another.
We can taste art in cinnamon and lemon and pepper,
as every amazing flavor
creates a new reality.
We can smell art in sawdust
as it floats out in the sunlight,
while the polished wood is silent about its own mystery.

Take my hand
and we can do this.
We can understand
that the distant bird in the sky is us,
that the music coming from an open doorway is us,
that a tree on the other side of the world is us,
that the words of a poem are us.
It is all us.
Take my hand.

Matisse dancers

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Filed under Not Real Poetry

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