The Book Life

I Told You It Wasn’t Sad

April 12, 2011
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This is not the saddest story ever told.
This is not even that sad of a story.
Boy meets girl or the other way around and she,
at least, knows better. Knows it’s trouble from the start
and that’s part of what draws her.
Tired of the safety of her life so far
she just runs. Runs right at him.
And it isn’t so much that he runs away.
That isn’t it.
It’s more of a standstill. His standstill.
Watching her, vaguely bemused.
Like he finds her antics cute
in a zoo animal kind of way. Nothing he’d
take home. And he stands still. And she comes back.
And back. Always headed right for him.

The most that could be said is that he sidestepped.

Like I said, though, not the saddest story.
Smart girl, smarter than you’d guess
from the semi-desperate race she’s running.
Not a quitter, but it seems now she’s learning to do just that.

She keeps moving. Continues past safety where possible.
Not learning every lesson. A different target every time.
She knows better than to hold her breath
for someone to turn and keep pace. Smart girl.
She keeps breathing. I told you it wasn’t sad. She keeps breathing.

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Practice

April 3, 2011
1 Comment

I’ve had mantras before. I’ve written poems about them.
Although admittedly the translation didn’t take
and the whole thing turned into an epigraph.
But that’s a little bit of the point, I think, to a mantra.
It should be shorter than a poem.
The other bit of the point is to say that I can do this,
the mantra thing. It’s familiar to me.
It’s supposed to be a tool.
In the past it’s just been words I love,
phrases on repeat like the chorus at the end of a pop song.
An ideal embodiment.
Something solid to grasp when feelings crash fast.
An incantation to make them come.
Something to make them easier to carry.

What you are asking of me, here, is new.
How I imagine it would feel to pray the rosary
if I were a more sincere Catholic. Calming. One word
for each breath. I’ve always connected with symmetry.
Searched for it. But I am not a sincere Catholic,
and I’m concerned here about my ability to remain
sincere. But this seems easier to return to. Seems to ask less
of me. Seems, oddly, like a scythe, clearing the brush from my mind.
Before, the mantras appeared in the midst of my flailing,
more a tool of steadying. Reaching for the nearest word,
taking what I found there.

Today’s mantra was granted to me. Gift-like,
but me, free to decline. The breathing, alone,
has been a gift from the start, even the strangest of exercises.
But even at its best depths, it seemed shallow.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it was the words that finally filled the exhale.

It was bound to happen, the poem about yoga. I hope it’s not too… yoga. You know what I mean. Because I really like the breathing, and I find the mantras unusual. But they seem to do nice things for me. I just don’t want to interrogate that too much – I’d rather enjoy it.