THOUGH I WASN’T ALWAYS

Why do I keep trying to understand

the list of many things that I do

 

not? I carry around a fifty-

one-year-old weathered scroll

 

inked with a variety of unknowns.

Some, once understood—now

 

not. Many new, others ever-

changing. The list

 

grows. If “life is what happens when you are making

other plans,” why plan?

 

Why do traits that attract

turn into reasons to leave?

 

Is life alone settling,

fate, or just giving up

 

on the game? Why use the word

forever when nothing is?

 

How can a lifestyle choice threaten

others? How is walking in rain

 

therapy to some, yet loathed by many?

How do crows know I am

 

a friend, though I wasn’t always?

How does a special animal change

 

a person’s life? What do you do

when they go? Why do tough

 

people sometimes betray the code

and cry? Why do some become monsters

 

instead of protecting

their children? Can the kindness

 

of an outsider make enough

difference? Why does the pain remain

 

when the damage is long

gone? How do butterflies

 

know to show up when you need

them? If writing can be an antidote

 

for depression, can it lead

to understanding? Is philosophy

 

a gift, or an over-thought

burden? Destiny, obligation

 

calling (words that are larger

than life) can you really

 

see them coming?

Herman Hesse wrote:

 

I have been and still am a seeker,

but I have ceased to question

stars and books; I have begun

to listen to the teaching my blood

whispers to me.

 

Was there an event that opened

his eyes to this

 

realization or is it the wisdom

of a tired traveler?

 

When is it okay to let go

of questions and simply embrace?

 

The surprises never

end. Perhaps it’d be healthier to lean

 

back: let the bad be curses

and the good, magic.

 

This poem started with my piece Why from the “Write to Understand” writing workshop taught by friend Matt Love  on December 10th 2016 in Astoria, Oregon and evolved over time thanks to the help from another writer friend of mine Tara Hardy .

 

Why

Why do I keep trying to understand the list of many things that I do not.  I carry around a fifty-one year old scroll of weathered paper inked with a variety of unknowns.  Some once understood – now not.  Many new, others ever-changing.  The list grows…

If “Life is what happens when you are making other plans” – why plan

Why do traits that attract – become reasons to leave

How is walking in rain therapy to some – yet loathed by many

How does a special animal change a person’s life – what do you do when they go

Why does pain remain when the damage is long gone

How do butterflies know to show up when you need them

If writing can be an antidote for Depression – can it help with Understanding

Destiny, Obligation, Calling (words that are larger than life) – can you really see them coming

Herman Hesse wrote, “I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.”

Was there an event that opened his eyes to this realization or is it the wisdom of a tired traveler?  When is it okay to let go of questions and simply embrace?

The surprises never end.  Perhaps it’d be healthier to lean back: let the bad be curses and the good magic.

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As always I learned while enjoying my day at the “Write to Understand” writing workshop on December 10th 2016.

Matt Love lives and teaches in Astoria, Oregon.

Her name was Mary

Saturday I read a text while on lunch break from a writing workshop.  While walking my dog I learned that a favored cousin had died, that it may have been as long as a couple weeks before she was found.  The small words on my phone almost sat me down on the wet sidewalk – once again my dog kept me moving.  Nobody can see a tear in your eye if you eat alone in a dark corner of a pub, this was working until I was invited to sit with the group.  I chose to save the news for later, join them and float in their conversation’s.  I succeeded in not thinking about her very much and did the best I could with the rest of the day.  As I began the three hour drive home over the bridge guilt clutched me for being able to put myself first.  The tortuous lone drive home on wet roads through dark trees seemed like an appropriate time-out.

Sunday I learned that she left a note – she had chosen this ending.  It felt like an asthma attack in my head.  As this sad ending becomes another of life’s unsolvable cruel riddles that ride in on the monster we simply call “Loss”; I will focus on what I can.

Mary was ten years older.  Being another only child gave us a special bond, our club of one’s.  Most years we got together on my family trips back to North Dakota.  Mary lived on a huge farm alive with animals, horses being her favorite.  This contrast to living in a small Washington town appealed to me.  One Summer I was given three little ducklings to care for at my Grandparent’s farm.  Years later we’d meet for dinner and a night on the town to catch-up, a highlight of my annual visits.  Mary’s adult life revolved around taking care of elder family and helping other friends, she seemed to delight in the role.  Certainly as they passed away, chunks of her went with them and loneliness soaked in.

My cousin had a huge heart.

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Her name was Mary.