When my heart breaks, I will be a gleaner: a poem

When my heart breaks,

I will be a gleaner in the fields.

I will gather everything that is scattered,

I will leave nothing to be discarded.

My hands will collect the husks,

the broken pieces,

like blessings.

There is nothing I will reject here,

nothing that will not give me nourishment,

nothing that my body can’t transform

into a new thing, a thing that fuels me.

I will walk behind the threshers

in the razed, spent fields,

and I will find what I need to survive.

I will gather the fragments,

I will sweep them together,

I will inhale their brokenness

through my skin,

through my eyes and ears,

through my sensibilities,

through my longing.

I will absorb them into myself anew,

composting everything.

Everything.

Let there be no waste for one who is hungry,

one who is curious,

one who is clever with her hands.

 

In Jane Hirshfield’s Nine Gates, she writes of the poet as a gleaner. Finishing that book earlier this month, this meditation came to my mind. Am I the narrator? Maybe, maybe not. It’s never that simple.

One day you may drift into darkness (on a small ship on the sea’s slick surface): a poem

I’m heading off on a short backpacking trip with two dear friends early tomorrow morning, and as I get ready I’m thinking about darkness.

I will tell my children:

one day you may drift into

darkness, on a small ship

on the sea’s slick surface,

the moon’s reflected light reflecting

faint hope on the rolling waves.

Don’t fear this starkness,

the lonely vigil,

the shadows cast upon you and

against you, strange fish lapping

at your ship’s sides,

the roaring silence, your soul’s

uncertain state of repair.

You are alone here;

you will always be alone

in your quietest self, in your

night-time wanderings,

beneath the sky’s huge awning,

no more here than in a crowd.

There is no safer harbour, there is no

certainty of life unfolding as you wish it,

as you believed had been granted,

had been gifted.

But you are alive now, luminous watcher,

buoyed by this silent cradle,

high up on the slippery waves,

rocking,

rocking.