Waking

Not plausible, perhaps, but last night the current bushes still appeared as a handful of sticks. Early this morning, the world still damp with dew and rain, green leaves have emerged from those brown sticks, their tender folds already beginning to open.

No other words for this: spring in all her viridescent beauty.

She is working now, in a room
not unlike this one,
the one where I write, or you read…

Let her have time, and silence,
enough paper to make mistakes and go on.

— from Jane Hirshfield’s ‘The Poet’

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Daughters

When I was a young woman, I immersed myself in experiences — live in a tipi, race an old Saab on an interstate, travel around the country sleeping in the back of a diesel Rabbit — but all as experience, without a context. Maybe that’s one of the main things I’ve gained as a parent — how to see the years-unfolding shape of our lives, the pattern of habits, the emotional tenor. Where are we weak? Where do we flourish?

Now, as my daughters — one exiting adolescence and the other entering — step into claiming their own lives, I watch the shape of the lives they’re creating, different than mine, and yet inseparable.

Late Prayer
Jane Hirshfield

Tenderness does not choose its own uses.
It goes out to everything equally,
circling rabbit and hawk.
Look: in the iron bucket,
a single nail, a single ruby--
all the heavens and hells.
They rattle in the heart and make one sound.

 

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Lake Eligo, Vermont

Sometime In Autumn

This morning, the younger daughter and I noticed the phlox, now fully blackened with frost, has withered enough to let light beneath our deck. The two of us (barefoot in October!) looked down through the slats. What might lie under there?

No school for a few days. While the laundry flaps free from the clothesline, the girls bake a chocolate cake for a visitor tonight, and I spread my work over the dining room table.

Every day, less and less leaves on the trees, but the sunlight’s still holding strong.

It was like this:
you were happy, then you were sad,
then happy again, then not.

It went on…

– Jane Hirschfield

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East Hardwick, Vermont

Fleeting Beauty

I’m still burning wood into June, in this long damp spring. Usually, my daughter’s birthday at the end of May marks the beginning of the swimming season, and many birthday parties have ended with an adult or two walking the little girls across the road in Elmore to the lake.

This year, while the children disappeared in the greenery, laughing, four adults stood around a fire, talking about everything from SBACs to dementia, while the damp wore into us. With an exhale, we could see the clouds of our breath.

Earlier that day, I had taken some children to a theater opening, and watched a magician blow bubble creations: a spinning carousel, a caterpillar, rainbow-hued bubbles-within-a-bubble. He told a story of keeping a bubble in a sealed glass container, checking it every morning as it changed hue, absorbing the air molecule by molecule, until one day it popped and disappeared.

Edging nearer the fire yesterday, I thought of this magician, waking up each morning, curious about the evolving state of his bubble, improbably spun from the simplicity of liquid and air, radiantly beautiful. The boy beside me had murmured, That is the coolest thing.

Zen pretty much comes down to three things — everything changes; everything is connected; pay attention.

– Jane Hirshfield

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