This morning I had breakfast
While looking at the sea –
Everything was easy
Everyone was gracious and kind.
This afternoon, I watched a bus driver yell at a tourist
Who’d pushed the wrong button on the bus.
At the conclusion of the exchange, the bus driver walked away saying,
“You try having that beeping in your ears every day, all day.”
The tourist said, “You could try to be nice.”
Well well well
Something that would make anyone ask
“What is it you should remember?”
I have found that the best way to get
A room full of people quiet
Is to whisper as if I were telling a secret.
Our ears are finely tuned to what
We’re not meant to hear.
There are endings and there are endings.
Some things feel over before they’re done
Some things end before they feel over.
We left last night. They locked the door behind us.
The woman with the dark lines painted on her eyelids
Cried to see it end.
I rejoiced a bit.
In a few days
We will leave somewhere else
And this second leaving
Will leave us really left.
And this is also a double
Because blessing and grace
Can be synonyms.
One says grace or a blessing
Over a meal –
So this double is a double doubled.
This has never been my fault.
At least not to my knowledge.
I’m much more likely to leave too early –
To pull up my stakes
Just in time
To shake the dirt off of my roots
And dance off into the sunset.
I once quit a job two weeks after I started
(for me, that was holding on, I wanted to leave as soon as I arrived)
and when I told my boss, he said, “Alright. Get onto your horse and ride.”
I was a cowboy hero
Making a grand exit and even the man in the black hat
But like a cowboy, I didn’t really have a home –
I was more at home moving and when I stopped
I had to figure out how to stay
But I have yet to stay
No, not this time.
He won’t make this show.
Or the one before –
Though he did come to New Jersey that time
To see that one
I was so unsure of.
There are shows
That I wish he could have seen
That one across the country
The one on that Tuesday
But this time, I don’t mind him not coming.
Perhaps it’s because I don’t mind
People not coming in general, this time around.
I used to measure friendships and love
According to who turned up to see my work.
It was a kind of emotional blackmail for ticket sales
Either turn up to see this thing I made
Or I will take you off the list of my heart.
I don’t do that anymore. I won’t. I can’t.
People who want to see
Here will come the people who could make it this time.
Here will come the people who can.
Aren’t we always only ever giving advice to ourselves?
Sometimes, recklessly. I have given someone counsel
That crossed a line
Because I believed it so passionately for myself.
I wanted him to find a better way
Because I so desperately wanted a better way for myself
But he already had a voice
Whispering to him to find that better way
Mine only pushed him further into the shadows of fear and stasis.
If he were to have said so
To have pointed out that truth to me.
I might have deflected it simply.
If he’d offered up the truth
I might have flippantly said
He had nothing to fear from me.
An aphorism that never took hold – tried, though it might.
Imagine, a mother in a house coat and curlers
Shaking her head at her moody teenage daughter
And bemoaning ruefully these words.
Ah, that old saying!
What is youth rebelling to itself?
Youth rejects its youth
And starts wearing cardigan sweaters
And combing its hair in the middle
While watching its soaps on the TV
Before taking its meds, and
Wishing its grandchildren would visit.
Fear, like a straight jacket,
Will certainly keep you from actively hurting yourself
Or the people and world around you.
It can keep you from running
From getting booed off the stage.
It can keep you from loving
And lord knows that’s a good way to be assured
An avoidance of devastating heartbreak.
Certainly, certainly, let fear keep you safe.
Arms tied to your body
Never reaching out
Never holding anything to your chest
Never letting rhythm or melody
Steal into your limbs
To wave them or shake them
Or beat them on drums.
It is very safe
To sit very still
Letting fear keep you from harm.