Monday, November 29, 2010

One by Mary Oliver

Hi all,

This came from my friend Sarah this morning. Enjoy!


Still, what I want in my life
Is to be willing
To be dazzled-
To cast aside the weight of facts

And maybe even
To float a little
Above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

Into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing
That the light is everything-that it is more than the sum
Of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.
-Mary Oliver

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Saw Peter on the Street Today

I saw Peter on the street today
Older, with a young woman
Just like always
His hair still long but thin and grey,
Loose curls like clouds
Cheekbones and shoulders all angles
Small Lennon glasses, still
Looking a few feet in front of his trajectory
Just like always.
Of course I felt it
Right in the solar plexus.
I didn’t used to feel like that.
Today I cry at the drop of a hat.
(Did you know that they dropped their hats
To signal a fight?
That’s where the phrase comes from.
We dropped more than our hats.)
I wanted to stop the car, stop the trajectory
Chase after him and tell him about the hats
-Just like always-
Offer him my newest packet of information
The gift that pleased him most.
Instead I watch the young girl
Craning her slim neck up
A crescent-moon smile on her lips
Perhaps she too is making such an offering
Up to that head-in-the-clouds.
Let her.
Meanwhile, I will keep driving
Following my trajectory
Keeping the gift for you, instead.
There: you have it.
Just like always.

Nerissa Nields
Nov. 17, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

House of Bourbon (Notes for "Tomorrowland")

House of Bourbon
(“Found” poem from about 1998; revised 2010.)

What if I don’t want to be a princess?
My precious face. My beautiful face.
It’s not all I have.
Alternatively, you might see me as just another
Angry Cinderella who leaves her shoe
The way you leave a footprint:
To prove that I was there.
(I was there. I was there. I was there.)
Like a record album
Or a child.
I left that ball. True.
I walked out. Also true.
Just know the shoe you found
Was not by clumsy mistake
Nor left as a tease
but as a statement.
And after the anger
Which will fade like the red of my lips
There will remain this
My footprint.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Wake a Little Off Center

I wake
A little off center
As if I am only able to inhabit
The left side of my body.
My skin itches
I am afflicted like Job
And sleepy like a bear
In late November.
Craving a cave instead of the sunlight.
The winds rise up as I set forth
Blowing debris out of their carefully raked piles
Into my face.
I raked those piles.
Is it my fault because I left them,
Foolishly thinking they would stay the night?

My only job to rake these leaves.
Give me a different job.

My heart is heavy these days
Too much death,
Too many fallen leaves.

And remains so
Until a friend calls,
To say,
What I wouldn’t give for a rake
What I wouldn’t give for a tree.
You are so lucky.

“It is better to do your own duty
Badly than to perfectly do

And so I pick up the rake
Tidy the piles
Toss the fragments of leaf
Into the compost pile.

Perfectly at peace,
Even as I know
The winds could still come up again
And this time the fragments will be even smaller,
Mere dust
More painful to the eye.
Even so, Oh Lord,
I rake them again
For the love of you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

For Joan

I have nothing to say. I am empty. And anyway:
“Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord.”
So why should I write? Why should I speak?
Apple-cheeked, you were here last month, last week, yesterday
And raised your fist in victory
When the doctors said you could go home.
It’s all backwards.
You knew you were going home to die.
You welcomed it.
And we coaxed our faces into reflected, refracted smiles.
In the Bhagavad Gita
Krishna tells Arjuna, “They will all die anyway
May as well be by your hand.”
My daughter writes the alphabet over and over in purple magic marker
The words to her favorite song
She knows language is not life.
It’s an overlay at best
But it does coax the tune back.
I keep returning to my desk
To see if there is a new message from you
Your family found your account
And sends emails to us
I see your name in my inbox
The overlay of you
Still sweet as honey in tannic tea
Before a word is on my tongue
You know it completely, O lord.
And still, I would hear you speak once more.
-Nerissa Nields
Nov. 15, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What I Wonder about Prometheus

Why his liver?
That’s what I want to know.
If it had been me, I feel sure
That God would’ve taken my voice.
And it wouldn’t have been a violent desecration, either, with the mysterious restoration
In the night while the victim slept, wiped out, from the brutal operation
No, more like a borrowing—a book from the library, slyly
Returned with a different page dog eared each day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Maybe God Is A Harried Parent

Maybe God is a harried parent just like, say, me.
We say, “God used to do great things,
Like create the world
And set it in motion
But now He’s this lame duck,
Just sitting back watching us destroy His creation.”

(The Deists would say this. They’re the ones that created the Enlightenment, the United States, Harvard and the New York Times not necessarily in that order.)

Anyway, what if God’s running as fast as She can
Just to keep up with our shenanigans?
Like when we take fruits and insects and birds
From one continent
And scatter them willy nilly onto another
-bananas, kudzu, sugar, starlings, eucalyptus, long horned beetles—
We put things where they don’t belong, creating unhappy couplings
We get sick and we mess with the ecosystem.
Then God has to work extra hard racing around
Trying to answer all our prayers
To get our sick selves well.
Trying to get our sick earth well, too.
Maybe God doesn’t feel so well.

My kids scatter lots of things, placing one of each into their small backpacks and purses, their own personal continents:
Tiny pieces of a ripped up pine cone
Papers covered with scotch tape and rolled up into tubes
Puzzle pieces
One card from a deck
And I race around, gathering the containers, sorting through the debris,
Returning each item to its land of origin.
Trying to make order out of the divine plan.
Who said chaos wasn’t divine?
Who said the divine plan was ordered?
The Deists, remember. And maybe me, once.
-Nerissa Nields
November 2010