Guest List by Annie Lighthart Only once, one afternoon, almost asleep on the couch, could I come up with the perfect guests for an imaginary dinner party--a mix of the living and dead, the deep and the shy artfully combined with the swashbuckling talkers. It was such a list: everyone would say yes, and we'd sit in pairs maybe, or close little bunches, or maybe all together at the table while the candles burned low. Later, with a few out on the front step, what with our immediate kinship, the wine and warm night, I could ask them anything, anything--historical, personal--and thus find out about life and time. Our goodbyes would be fond and long. But just now: no one. I can't think of a soul I'd like over, not one for whom I'd vacuum or shove laundry in the shower, not one for whom I'd balance fine cheese on ridiculously small morsels of bread. Except you, person I just saw crossing the street, you who stopped to move a slug off the sidewalk with a little piece of paper you took from your coat. You, I would clean for. You, I would like to meet. You can find this poem in Pax.
Sutra 26 from The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder & Delight by Lorin Roche The One Who Is at Play Everywhere says, There is a space in the heart where everything meets. Come here if you want to find me. Mind, senses, soul, eternity – all are here. Are you here? Enter the bowl of vastness that is the heart. Listen to the song that is always resonating. Give yourself to it with total abandon. Quiet ecstasy is here, And a steady, regal sense Of resting in a perfect spot. You who are the embodiment of blessing, Once you know the way, The nature of attention will call you to return. Again and Again, answer that call, And be saturated with knowing, “I belong here, I am at home.”
Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay To what purpose, April, do you return again? Beauty is not enough. You can no longer quiet me with the redness Of little leaves opening stickily. I know what I know. The sun is hot on my neck as I observe The spikes of the crocus. The smell of the earth is good. It is apparent that there is no death. But what does that signify? Not only under ground are the brains of men Eaten by maggots. Life in itself Is nothing, An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs. It is not enough that yearly, down this hill, April Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers. You can find this poem in Collected Poems.
I No Longer Pray For Peace by Amy Weems On the edge of war, one foot already in, I no longer pray for peace: I pray for miracles. I pray that stone hearts will turn to tenderheartedness, and evil intentions will turn to mercifulness, and all the soldiers already deployed will be snatched out of harm’s way, and the whole world will be astounded onto its knees. I pray that all the “God talk” will take bones, and stand up and shed its cloak of faithlessness, and walk again in its powerful truth. I pray that the whole world might sit down together and share its bread and its wine. Some say there is no hope, but then I’ve always applauded the holy fools who never seem to give up on the scandalousness of our faith: that we are loved by God…… that we can truly love one another. I no longer pray for peace: I pray for miracles. You can find this poem in From Advent's Alleluia to Easter's Morning Light: Poetry for Worship, Study, and Devotion.
by Naomi Shihab Nye
The river is famous to the fish. The loud voice is famous to silence, which knew it would inherit the earth before anybody said so. The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds watching him from the birdhouse. The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek. The idea you carry close to your bosom is famous to your bosom. The boot is famous to the earth, more famous than the dress shoe, which is famous only to floors. The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it and not at all famous to the one who is pictured. I want to be famous to shuffling men who smile while crossing streets, sticky children in grocery lines, famous as the one who smiled back. I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous, or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular, but because it never forgot what it could do. You can find this poem in Words Under the Words: Selected Poems.
Letters to My Husband Far Away by Gillian Wegener The house is not empty without you. It thrums and bumps, the walls relax and sigh. The water heater dutifully comes on, rumbles with heat, waiting for your shower to start. How many times today have I heard your truck in the driveway, the floor creak with your step, felt your breath against the back of my neck. At least that often, I've turned to tell you something, or hand you a piece of cheese or a plum, but it's two more days until you return. It's just me in this room, with this plum, with this good fortune, with this far-flung love. You can find this in Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection.
by Anya Silver
Last week, a nurse pulled a warm blanket
from a magical cave of heated cotton
and lay it on my lap, even wrapping
my feet. She admired my red sandals.
Once, a friend brought me a chicken
she’d roasted and packed with whole lemons.
I ate it with my fingers while it was still warm.
Kindnesses appear, then disappear so quickly
that I forget their brief streaks: they vanish,
while cruelty pearls its durable shell.
Goodness streams like hot water through my hair
and down my skin, and I’m able to live
again with the ache. Love wakens the world.
Kindness is my mother, sending me a yellow dress in the mail
for no reason other than to watch me twirl.
You can find this poem in Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection.
We Are Of A Tribe by Alberto Ríos We plant seeds in the ground And dreams in the sky, Hoping that, someday, the roots of one Will meet the upstretched limbs of the other. It has not happened yet. We share the sky, all of us, the whole world: Together, we are a tribe of eyes that look upward, Even as we stand on uncertain ground. The earth beneath us moves, quiet and wild, Its boundaries shifting, its muscles wavering. The dream of sky is indifferent to all this, Impervious to borders, fences, reservations. The sky is our common home, the place we all live. There we are in the world together. The dream of sky requires no passport. Blue will not be fenced. Blue will not be a crime. Look up. Stay awhile. Let your breathing slow. Know that you always have a home here. You can find this poem in Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems.
End Results by Alice Wolf Gilborn His turn for blood work this morning. A routine test, but no breakfast, not even coffee. Just twelve degrees— I offer to walk the dog and after the long ritual of dressing for frigid weather, I plunge into the heartless air. An orange cat crouched in the driveway shifts its front paws; puffed up jays squawk in the oak tree. The dog stops—then sneezes mightily, putting cat and cold on notice. When I get back, he’s settled in his favorite chair, newspaper on his lap. Table’s set for one; a pot of water boiling on the stove awaits its egg, tea bag sits in a mug, a single slice of toast is ready to pop. The radio is off for once, so it’s our own voices we hear, chatter we won’t remember in a room warming with winter sun. When he leaves, silence descends like yesterday’s snow. Eating my solitary breakfast, I think of his small habitual gestures, the way he has of wanting to nourish the living: sparrows peck seed he’s spread on the deck, his two feral cats feed at their bowl, at the table I’m about to crack a perfect egg. Sustenance of many years. I wish him well, I wish him love, food for our braided lives. I wish all results positive. You can find this poem in Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection.
Blessing the Boats by Lucille Clifton may the tide that is entering even now the lip of our understanding carry you out beyond the face of fear may you kiss the wind then turn from it certain that it will love your back may you open your eyes to water water waving forever and may you in your innocence sail through this to that You can find this poem in Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000.