How exotic to be a part of your family Your grandmother adorned in Shanghai Jade Dreamy-eyed when your grandfather Arrives home from the airport Still very much alive And celebrated widely Kisses her, exhausted from healing, Legacy beginning, Doesn’t stop to sleep yet And sits in his study Clinking bourbon soaked ice Between his cheek and his teeth
You and your sister Not yet breathed life On this earth Will inherit these gestures His folded-arm stance Her slight secret humor Their society’s gaze The mountain view From your own safari jet
And how as children You will play And read and dream And not know That I look at your class picture Now with the others Teenagers become Perhaps moving on From their loss of you
Author’s note: This is a poem I wrote in 2006. That year, a previous student of mine was killed with his entire family when their private chartered plane went down over Kenya.
Courage looks deep into that canyon and says--I see you and I am coming down to feel the pain and what blossoms in such rich soil and surprises of shadow. I am coming down to find a scorpion in my boot and bluebells popping up through summer snow. I am coming in with a backpack full of things to shed while I am here. I am coming down there to look up and see how far I've come. I will look for the place where I lost my way and my senses could only be soothed by the stars. I will sleep in your cradle if it means I can actually sleep uninterrupted by your oasis. I will risk sunburn and dehydration to pick the scabs of my truth and I will climb deeper in to see the valley is home.
This is what the instructor told me to do in some way. Go up to your room, open up a notebook, fresh and blank- take out the markers- the new set you just got, and make a list. First list all of the things you could do today. List even things you know you are not ever going to do, but they could be done. Then make a list of everyone you love and have ever loved and ever will love. Then make a list of all the things that make you happy- be sure to switch colors for each item on this list- so they stand out and you can use each color- which is something that makes you happy. Then turn the page and draw a picture of the first thing you see. Then space out and doodle in the details, stick out your tongue a little bit, and don’t notice you are doing it. Lay down then on your stomach, for surely sitting on the floor all this time has made your lower back ache- a sign that you have been creating hard. Next cross your legs behind you and let them sway while you pause to draw something else in the corner of the paper- up at the top- something you have not drawn before but for sure plan to go back to. Then breathe for five minutes. Even though you have been breathing this whole time- probably a little too loudly for concentration, now just breathe, and let the out breath come first and then the in breath. Let go, then take in what you can. Let go, and then make room for the newness, and in this way- the rage downstairs becomes possible to bear.