The Wobble

Rhubarb emerging in my garden on this day….

Alaska is in that wobbly season when we can have a 40 degree, perfectly blue sky, sunny day followed by sub-zero, grey sky, snow falling. I remind myself each year that March and April are cold months. Often grey months. I’m wobbling after two years of pandemic, over 975,000 people dead from COVID in the US, the senseless slaughter of innocent people in Ukraine, but also Afghanistan, Palestine, and Yemen. I’m wobbling watching the rights of women to have autonomy over their own bodies systematically stripped away, state by state, and books being banned that might help kids understand their world a little better, and transgender rights being stomped on and obliterated.

In other words, oof, there’s a lot of wobble. So, if you’re feeling it as well, perhaps a few words from Jane Hirshfield to help you put your hands back on the rudder.

“I have been given this existence, these years on this Earth, to accept what has come into my lifetime: wars, loves, betrayals, kindness. I must take them. I must find a way to live in this world. You can’t refuse it. And along with the difficult is the radiant, the beautiful, the scent of the herbs, the “cardamom, star anise, long pepper, cinnamon, hyssop” that cover all of the spices of the globe, and our hands, our 54 bones, our 10 fingers, the intimacy with which each one of us enters the life of all of us and takes what comes to our own door and figures out, what is our conversation? What is my responsibility? What must be suffered? What can be changed? What can I know? How can I meet this in a way which both lets me open my eyes the next day and also, perhaps, if I’m lucky, can be of service to a changed future?”

Jane Hirshfield from On Being: The Fullness of Things.

Sometimes, I like to remind myself that the world which seems like it might just fracture at any minute goes on. I look back through my old poetry notebooks for poems written “on this day” but that never saw the light. Like this one from this day in 2019, before I could have ever imagined what this day in this year would have looked like. And even though it probably isn’t a hopeful poem (and certainly isn’t a finished poem), it does give me hope.

Release

I suppose you want
to hear about flight
and blood. Let me

tell you about stone.
By mid-winter, the world
is graywacke. Every-

thing splinters against
its solidity. The wind
comes with its blunt

nose, but can only find
purchase in the alder
branches. I have no

songs about the tedium
of hunger. I pull each
foot out of darkness.

My voice is not shaped
for your kind of beauty,
but in a month or two

when thaw releases
form, turn over
these stones. Find

what has been
grinding all these years.

Not toward you at all.
Toward the sea. The sea.

-Erin Coughlin Hollowell

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