Saturday, April 27, 2013

Room 9: Immaculate Heart

Room 9: Immaculate Heart

I stayed in this room last time 
I was here on retreat.
#9, my lucky number.
Immaculate Heart.

My heart was certainly
not immaculate then.
I tossed and turned
full of illicit desire and unrest.

I prayed for the courage to deliver myself
from such pain
such torment.
Give me strength, give me strength, give me strength.

Is my heart now immaculate?
Now that my prayers for strength and courage
were answered?

Whatever pain and unanchored resentment
that remained
was surely blown far away
on the blustery wind I drove in on.

Any last crevices hiding
the dust of regret were cleared
by that frigid howling.

Is what's left immaculate?
I ask again.

No, no, never immaculate.
I am human, after all.

The glaze that covers my heart
is full of imperfections.
Piercings from arrows that missed their mark,
cracks that healed improperly.

No, I wouldn't say

Hopeful, I'd say.
Full of the scent of narcissus
and lavender.
Ambitious like the jet aiming high
over the mountain.

Undeterred, like the waves meeting the
sharp rocks of the shore
Slowly, gently, persistently
softening them
with their salty water.

A Prayer Poem for the Fulfillment of a Desire

A prayer, dear one,
to love myself
as I love my children
fully, wholly, without condition.

A prayer, Lord,
for healing.
May old wounds heal
leaving only soft scars
to remind me how the soul survives.

A prayer, Buddha,
for continued mindfulness,
and practice in the arts of
compassion, metta, and

A prayer, love,
that I may remain open
to the depth of longing,
open to the release of passion,
open to the freedom of honesty.

Friday, April 26, 2013

the sweetest tea

A year ago I promised myself
I would move slowly
only with purpose
out of a desire for self-preservation,
a need for economy of emotion
and to focus on the babies
in my nest.

In that year, time has slowed
wounds have healed,
or begun to,
memories have faded
hurts have slowly fallen away
as I open my hands
and let go.

What do I desire now?
Now that the long, cold
winter is ending?

I desire to sip from
the sweet cup of tea
that has been steeping
for so long,

to be still long enough 
to witness the precise moment
the green stem of the planted bulb
breaks through.

To be quiet enough
to hear all the ways
the world whispers
I love you.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Table

This Table

The kitchen table.
It all centers
the kitchen table.

Heavy, solid, room
for ten to easily
gather around it.

by pen, pencil, crayon
fork, knife,wineglass

leaving knicks
and scratches
belonging to all who
surround it.

loved ones.

Tears shed over

Late nights
working things out.

Bread broken in unity
as a gift,
as celebration.

You at one end,
I at the other,
bonded by this table
and all that surrounds it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lord, Hear My Prayer

When I was in high school
the Stanford track coach
told my father I was
10 pounds away from being
the best sprinter in the state.

Lord, hear my prayer.

In college we had our body fat
percentage measured and even though
my coach was surprised at how low mine was
it was still over my goal of 15%.

Lord, hear my prayer.

My college boyfriend told me
that for someone so smart
I did a lot of stupid things.

Lord, hear my prayer.

When I was preparing to leave my job
as a personal trainer to go to
graduate school and was sharing
my dream of eventually getting my PhD
at Harvard another trainer's client
looked at me and asked,
"Are you smart enough?"

Lord, hear my prayer.

A man I greatly admired laughed and said,
"Don't we all!"
when I said I wanted to live in the country
and be a writer.

Lord, hear my prayer.

Even when I got second at Nationals
and was a three time All American
my father still called me a
"fair to middlin' hurdler."

Lord, hear my prayer.

When I was talking
to my then husband
about my plan to lose 10 pounds he said,
"Why not make it 20?"

Lord, hear my prayer.

Who were these men to shroud me
in self-doubt and make me question
what I knew then, but don't know now?

Lord, hear my prayer.

Why didn't I ever hear
You are perfect, just the way you are.
You can do whatever you set your mind to.

Lord, hear my prayer.

These are the messages
I pass on to my students
the boys and the girls.

Lord, hear my prayer.

These are the messages
I give my children
my son and my daughter.

Lord, hear my prayer.

These are the messages
I pray to hear
but the wall is so thick
the mirror so distorted
the disbelief so engrained
it is all I can do to plead

Lord, hear my prayer.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

More From the Pile of Dusty Papers in the Drawer

Only good news comes loudly. Bad news, it seems, comes quietly, stealthily. Something to do with the nature of bad news allows it to slow time down dramatically. There can be no loud noises, clamoring, or thuds while everything is appears in soft focus, and in very slow motion.  
     You answer the phone and instantly the world slows down, color is drained, you can no longer hear the TV, or your company talking, or the person standing next to you asking,  “What is it? What’s wrong? What’s happened?” as you slowly slide down the wall onto the floor and hold the phone out for them to take so their world can slow down too. Then you will both be slow and silent – at least for a while.
The same thing happens if you open the door to bad news. You are not expecting anyone, so even though you are in your pajamas eating a bowl of cold cereal and watching TV, you stand with trepidation – either you will have to turn away a teenager selling magazines or chocolate for some desperate fundraiser or listen politely to a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness who wants you to understand their God’s point of view. But you are about to believe there is no God, at least not one you want to know for a while. 
You learn that definitively when you answer the door and there is a police officer or a sheriff with a somber look on his face. “Mrs. Williams?” he asks. It is then that time slows. The deceleration began the moment you cracked the door open to see the shiny black, steel toed shoes, the Kelly green pants held up by the thick embossed black leather belt with a holster on one side carrying a large gun. Inexplicably, you pause to think that the guns always look so much bigger to you when you see them in person, rather than on TV. 
For a moment, you wonder what it would be like to walk around carrying a holstered gun all day.  What it must do to the alignment of your spine? But you wouldn’t know because you do not feel like you have a spine right now. If you do it is melting.  You feel it begin to melt at the top of your back, where your head meets your shoulders and as you raise your eyes from the gun-and-Billy-club-holding-holster you note the nametag on his chest reads “Phillips.” This moment will stay with you for a long time. Any time you hear the name "Phillips" you will flash on this day, this moment. The moment your life as you knew it ended, the moment your spine melted like hot wax, burning your skin and your soul and leaving you forever scarred, because this is the moment Officer Phillips says, “Mrs. Williams, I regret to inform you that your son has been killed in a motorcycle accident.”