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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Pick a crevice,
a homey gap
between stones
and make it
your own.

Grow a life here
from wind
rain
and the memories of ancients
embedded in limestone.

The bees will use you
for their sweet honey.
The rock will soften under
your touch.
You will draw moisture from fog
and hold it.
Your presence
will build soil.

This is all we have
in this life
all we own:
a flowering
an opening
a gap between stones
for tiny tender roots.

– Linda Buckmaster, “Flowering”

Sunday Selections

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The first thing we have to do
is to notice
that we’ve loaded down this camel
with so much baggage
we’ll never get through the desert alive.
Something has to go.

Then we can begin to dump
the thousand things
we’ve brought along
until even the camel has to go
and we’re walking barefoot
on the desert sand.

There’s no telling what will happen then.
But I’ve heard that someone,
walking in this way,
has seen a burning bush.

Francis Dorff, “Lightening the Load”