Credit – mobiletoones

Courage is a word that tempts us to think outwardly, to run bravely against opposing fire, to do something under besieging circumstance, and perhaps, above all, to be seen to do it in public, to show courage; to be celebrated in story, rewarded with medals, given the accolade, but a look at its linguistic origins leads us in a more interior direction and toward its original template, the old Norman French, Coeur, or heart.

Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work, a future. To be courageous, is not necessarily to go anywhere or do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences. To be courageous is to seat our feelings deeply in the body and in the world: to live up to and into the necessities of relationships that often already exist, with things we find we already care deeply about: with a person, a future, a possibility in society, or with an unknown that begs us on and always has begged us on. Whether we stay or whether we go – to be courageous is to stay close to the way we are made.

– David Whyte, from Readers’ Circle Essay, “Courage”; ©2011 David Whyte

like a tree in the wind

I’ve been having fun collaborating poetically with Jeannine B. Everett, whom I fortunately met during the April Platform Challenge I’ve mentioned many times previously. She and I have apparently been on a similar journey these days. What first brought up the idea of pair-writing was our respective inquiries into dualities and paradox. As you’ll see, this one relates to being grounded while also being able to flex. And as before, this one follows the form of a pantoum.

Our joint writing prompts and process have been so rich to date, we’ve decided to offer ‘Two Selves Tuesday’ postings from time to time as we explore a variety of ways to write together at a distance. I can already feel a branching out into new forms . . .

Like a tree in the wind
strong-rooted yet lithe
keeping time to life’s music
standing true to myself

Strong-rooted yet lithe
spread my sheltering arms
standing true to myself
with compassion and love

Spread my sheltering arms
my golden leaves dancing.
With compassion and love
I reach towards the sun.

With golden leaves dancing
the drumbeat of my heart,
I reach towards the sun
like a bird on the wing.

The drumbeat of my heart
keeps time to life’s music
like a bird on the wing,
like a tree in the wind.

Words by Jeannine B. Everett and Sarah W. Bartlett

empty nest reprieve

Chicks tend to leave one at a time, giving the illusion of preparing parents for the inevitable, though incomprehensible, reality of impending freedom from day-to-day tending. The truth? There is no preparing. And there is no end to tending. The day-to-day merely stretches into longer intervals.

Despite yearned-for openings for long-abandoned projects, sudden space can be, well, daunting. Until a momentary reprieve from solitude materializes in the form of a short two months when your youngest comes ‘home.’ By her own words, for her last summer. After a stretch of decades where daily parenting was the norm, the bedrock of life, this coda is beyond welcome. It also humbly reminds: balance between empty and full is a state of heart.

PARTING – for my daughter
Each time we part
it’s like
the first time –

how quickly you flew
from me, announced
your self on a tear

me barely prepared
to hold your
fast-moving force.

However long we share,
its ending always
seems sudden to me,

your leaving a jolt
that tears me open
anew through layers

of healed and renewed,
the one skin of us
flesh of my flesh.

And there you stand
at the opening
of tomorrow, the you

so often seen like me
by those who could not
know the whole, striding

into the world carrying
what lives below words,
can never be parted.