A Blessing for the Dark

You asked, What will I do
when I am wild and lonely
and you are not there?
What will I do in that dark?

I will give you a blessing
folded tight for that time.

No, you will not see me—
oh, passing in the street perhaps
as I have seen my brother, 

in dreams, for sure, as I have talked 
to my father at a restaurant table—

but that does not mean that I am not there.

If you speak to me, I will answer.
You will feel my words warm in your heart
as if I had said, I‘m right here,
as if I had put my hand in yours and kept it there

and you will know what I would have said—
what I am saying—
through the shift in the light,
the flick of your cat‘s ear,

through memory, yes,
but by the rush, too, of blood through you,
your softening.

When you think there‘s no way to go on,
know that I sit beside you
silent, but loving you,

that I see how strong you are
as you let yourself steady,

as you choose carefully.

And when you find ones you love,
ones who love you,
I am inside their love,
part of their laugh, their playful pounce,
their hand in yours.

A mound of potatoes, this blessing,
a flower on a spiraling vine,
your breath easing in the soft dark.
Give it to someone hungry.
Give it to yourself.

Language of Place

“To be native to a place, we must learn to speak its language.”
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

When I came into this world,
        I was not a native to this land.
At the time, I knew no language,
        no words, thoughts, ideas,
                or even concepts of meaning.
        But I grew and listened and learned.

I spent the next 60 plus years
        learning a language that for all intents and purposes
                barely scratches the surface
                        of communication between people,
        much less with the life
                that surrounds us on this earth.

What good is a language
        where people cannot agree
                on common acts of decency?
        Where a human race can know for certain
                that its existence is not in peril
                        of annihilating each other
                                because we can’t communicate.

What good is a language
        that holds no truth
                to be self-evident?
        For all people?

Perhaps I expect too much of a language
        and not enough of those who speak it.
                Perhaps I just haven’t learned
                        the right words.

I have been told
        there is great wisdom
                in listening,
        and in truth, there is great peace in just that.
                Sitting, listening, breathing.
                        Is there a better language?

The true natives of this land,
        the hawk, the deer, the bear,
                all the lives not human,
        know of a simpler way of living, communicating
                and we still don’t know what they are saying.
                        We don’t have a clue.

Perhaps one day
        we’ll learn.    Perhaps.

Has anyone seen a pig fly?

—Paul Causey

Word Wreck

You sat next to me, in the car, describing
loudly, about how outrageous the 
posting is, accusing you of being careless
by traveling during these pandemic times.

I asked how long has this person 
known you, and you responded 
“I only met her once.” I suggested
you could just ignore her, or consider
that perhaps she doesn’t know another
way to say she cares about you.

My words agitate you further and
yelling, you say there is no reason to 
continue to talking to me, I can stop 
and let you out of the car. 

This is the first time you have spoken
to me like this ~ how did we get to this
intersection ~ wrecking any opportunity
for dialogue, conversation?

The silence that settles between us
feels like a balm, yet too weak to 

ease my feelings. I breathe into myself,
I breathe into you. 

I let the words of silence to say
what there is no room to say, 
no way to say, to speak into your pain, 
and mine.

—Martha Ward