Oh life, you give me too much
opportunity to receive your difficult gifts.
You ask me to let go of my desires, my
expectations, my wants, my will--
the my, my, my that drives me
to distraction, anxiety, fear.
You ask me to practice seeing
the present apart and aside
from my wish to craft existence
into something easy
the recliner and slippers
I would opt for over
this narrow path
these sharp stones
that cut and bleed.
And life, practicing the art
of accompaniment seems never
ending as I stumble in descent
alongside those I hold dearest
through dark canyons. We long
for illumination and the river coursing
the valley floor where we might
drink of life. Instead we travel
through fractured families and ailing
health down through loss of job
and identity, mental faculties and self
down amid despair and death.
Hands skimming striated walls, we are
dwarfed by enormity
as we touch the long history of the world
and our very small places in it.
Oh life, accepting what is, along with our
insignificance is such a difficult task.
Difficult too, to give thanks
in every circumstance,
to love the fleeting and fragile.
More difficult still to cling
to nothing but this moment
to find hope and peace in breath
alone—And so life, we must
practice again and again the art
of embracing your difficult gifts.
I am a writer who, in December 2011, fortified by a new MFA, empty nest, and changes in my husband's employment, relocated from my native California to Washington state to see what would unfold next.