vulnerability

pair dancing - koffTwo weeks back, I posted two sets of writings from the women inside Vermont’s prison where I hold weekly writing groups. We had responded to a set of five statements from Brene Brown  which circulated following her highly-popular November 12 interview with Krista Tippett. In light of recent events and the coming solstice, it felt right to share my own writing on those themes; writing I did along with the incarcerated women – inside, writing about vulnerability with metal doors clanging, corrections officers interrupting three or four times per hour for head count, women sitting together with others they might not even speak to on the unit; but here we were writing and sharing ouir raw unedited vulnerability.

The five topics are not specifically referenced here. Nonetheless, I believe the resulting lines speak not only to her words, but to many of us for whom the idea of opening ourselves can be frightening, even to point of refusing to do so.

I. When the shell is tight
across the chest, breathing
is labored, forced;

without digging in secret
places within
whence would poetry arise?

If I follow the same path
day after day, I remain
in a rut.

II.  We cannot afford to forget
any experience,
even though painful.

If I live numbed
how would I become better
than my past mistakes?

Absent feeling, there is no pulse;
my soul demands
to feel it all.

III.  How can I demand of you
that which I would not myself do? Continue reading

i love this world, but not for its answers*

I love this world but not
for its answers. I love it
for its unbounded possibility, its
open-hearted vistas and ocean expanse, its bordered meetings
of rock and plant, the unexpected ways a sunset can dip and grace
an otherwise dull day; for
the surprise of sweet narcissus
emerging from late snow; hope
and optimism of cycles, turning,
predictability and surprise
of trust, not knowing
and faith.

I love this world, not for its answers
but questions that lead us forward
and in, that lead us to learn from
earth and star, the unique and cosmic;
to practice seeing gratitude grow into truth –
right relationship with all life.

I love this world for being alive.
For its challenge, comfort,
its steadfast presence.
Though it holds horrors
that never should have been borne,
that can drag us down, distort
and destroy; though it does
not always answer – yet
its inherent good lives.
And for this, fI love this world.

*with thanks to Mary Oliver, ‘Snowy Night’; an in-class fast-write from a girls’ circle that feels like a natural follow-on to Friday’s post.