Little Altars Everywhere

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That rock that we
have been pushing up
the hill—that one

that keeps rolling back down
and we keep pushing
back up—what if

we stopped? We are not
Sisyphus. This rock
is not a punishment.

It’s something we’ve chosen
to push. Who knows why.
I look at all the names

we once carved into
its sedimentary sides.
How important

I thought they were,
those names. How
I’ve clung to labels,

who’s right, who’s wrong,
how I’ve cared about
who’s pushed harder

and who’s been slack.
Now all I want
is to let the rock

roll back to where it belongs,
which is wherever it lands,
and you and I could,

imagine!, walk unencumbered,
all the way to the top and
walk and walk and never stop

except to discover what
our hands might do
if for once they were no longer

pushing.

– Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, “Perhaps It Would Eventually Erode, But … “

Little Altars Everywhere


In the dream the string had broken
and I was trying to
pick out its beads among all others.

The large coral beads,
the beads of turquoise and ivory—
these were not mine.
Carved and ridged with color, burnished, weighty—
my hands passed over them without regret or pause.

The tiny ones,
of glass,
almost invisible against the white cotton bedspread—
these were mine.

The hole in the center
scarcely discernible as different from the bead itself,
the bead around it
scarcely discernible as different from the bed or floor or air—

with trembling fingers
I lifted them
into the jar my other hand cupped closely to one breast.

Not precious, merely glass, almost invisible.
How terrified I was at the thought of missing even one.

While I live, I thought, they are mine to care for.

Then wakened heavy with what I recognized at once
as an entirely warranted grief,

frantic for something plain and clear
and almost without substance,
that I myself had scattered, that I myself must find.

– Jane Hirshfield, “Silk Cord”

Little Altars Everywhere

 

Blue Jay Feather, Pine Straw

Death pushed me to the edge. Nowhere to back off. And to the shame of my fears, I danced with abandon in his face. I never danced as free. And death backed off, the way dark backs off a sudden burst of flame. Now there’s nothing left, but to keep dancing. It is the way I would have chosen had I been born three times as brave.

-Mark Nepo

Sunday Selections

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The god of dirt
came up to me many times and said
so many wise and delectable things. I lay
on the grass listening
to his dog voice,
crow voice,
frog voice: now,
he said, and now,
and never once mentioned forever
– Mary Oliver, “One or Two Things” (excerpt)