mysteries, yes [from mary oliver].

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity,
while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
"Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

—Mary Oliver


Nearly a week late, but alas, here are a few reflections after toasting a quarter-century of being alive and well:

Other than The Word Project I myself have been pretty quiet on this little blog. Trying to think of the milestones of this past year is difficult; there feels like there is little to report as far as anything flashy or news-worthy goes, but it was such a significant year in the deep, deep part of me, which is trickier to talk about. I get impossibly insecure lately about the question, "how are you?" because I find it complicated to answer, especially when the lovely people in my life really want to know the true response. The most succinct answer, most honestly, and especially over this past year, is, "I am so many things." I feel gawky and feely and complicated and awkward like a kid who cut their own bangs and is waiting for them to grow out; I feel empty and hopeful and bored and busy and hungry and numb from spending so much time per week on public transit. I am twenty-five and still don't know how to properly blow dry my hair or go through a day without my mascara smudging or drink water without spilling it down my shirt. Cool. I feel unsure about pretty much everything except that I want to start my day with a cup of coffee.

This has been a year of closing into myself to take a look around at my head and heart. This was the year my chest caught on fire, enflamed with pain and sickness, urging me to listen.This is a metaphor and it is also not a metaphor. I've taken inventory and thrown a lot of things out and I am getting used to all of the space and all of the echoing and all of the light. It was a decade of lessons, blow upon blow, grace upon grace. This was the year that felt like a coal mine, dark and deep and ashy, and sifting, so much sifting. There was so much monotony and so much stirring. This was the year that turned me into sand. I have felt myself age. I have felt myself surrender and bellow and call out to the heavens and lost hope and look for the good in the quietest of days and admit to my weaknesses and sink into the depths of loneliness and, on more and more days, I have been able to pull myself out. 

I am humbled by the intensity of this last year, how eloquently it was written, even the brutal barrenness, even the days of hollow eyes and empty hands. I feel bewildered by it all, all that has happened and all that hasn't. And mostly I am humbled by the kindness of others, the friends and loved ones who have fed me and encouraged me and reminded me of my name when I forgot it, who have scooped me up and held me close and listened and most of all laughed so brightly that the silly impossibility I so often feel melted away. 

Cheers to being young and silly and bewildered by this complex and brilliant world, and to lightness, which I wish more than anything for all of you. 

xo j.  

Posted on March 17, 2015 and filed under from jess-.

cover (v).


It is the greatest shame
that we become buried only by ourselves
our own fear
our own doubt and questions
it is our own shovel that takes us down.

where have you gone my love
up up to the attic
off, off far away
you've covered the windows
so you wouldn't know the time.

I will come looking for you, always.
I will dig, even if only with my hands
I will uncover you from the soil
I will lay with you in the earth
I will, when you are ready, take your hands and help you rise.

name (n).

When was it that I became so scared and sad? I have muddied it for myself, rustled up a hurricane with my worry and doubt, ripping leaves off trees, piling too high these bricks and books, clenching too tight the ropes in my hands. 

Here it is - I will go back to the Beginning and remember how simple it was, how clear: I want to be a river, I want to be always Spring, I want not to be the poet but the poem itself. And (possibly the most important), I don't need to be anything else. 

affix (v).

My steps have become laboured and slow
I have become aware that I let my insides turn to lead
when I gave my centre to another
let them decide when the sun rose and set
And when the tide came in and left

I'm not sure we should have anchors at all;
cut the chain and send me out to sea
I want to feel only the weight of the sky on my skin
only the certainty that I am my own.

fable (n).


Did we forget that we could be happy? Even here, with our crooked floors and tired bodies, our empty bank accounts and fuzzy comprehension of what It all means. Are we not unbelievably blessed, irrevocably provided for, abundantly [at least, figuratively] rich? Look what you have in your hands. Look what you have in your heart. Look at who you shared coffee with this morning. Look at who you want to call at the end of your day. Equipped with all sorts. 

Have you heard the story of the man with the empty field? He would sit near the gate, palming his seeds, watching the road, pursing his lips. He saved and saved them, worrying, "what if I squander them? What if I plant too soon? What if the rains don't come? What if next season will be more plentiful than this one? What if nothing lasts?"

He was a skinny, skinny man. 

chemist (n).

They try to warn us early - wasn't it grade three science class? You can't uncook or unscramble an egg, separate tea from water once it's steeped, or unlight a match after it's been struck on the strike pad. It's not ruined, but it will never be the same. And then we grow up and see what they meant; you can't uncrack your chest, unfeel what you've felt, unsay what's been said, collect everything back up once the floodgate opens. 

There was heart swell and heart swoon, and I can't fit back into my skin from before I knew you. It's not ruined. It's not. But it's too late, and it won't be the same.

sprawl (v).


I don't want to unravel, only unfold.
Open and
open again, becoming softer and expanding without strain, without strife or struggle.

I want to be the letter 
you smooth out with your hands
the paper soft with wear, the words that were sent and chosen with delicate, nervous care. 

I want to be someday mostly like spring
the way she whispers the earth awake 
flowers and trees like toddlers drowsy and lazy after their naps.

I want always to unfold
the way I unfold when we tangle up at the end of the day
the way your stories do, winding softly to reveal some new corner of you
the way we didn't think twice when we set off onto this open sea. 

innate (adj).


I want to be where the ease is - forests of space, choruses of "yes." I want to be on open waters wide enough to sprawl out all of the thoughts I could ever have, all of the dreams I could ever hold, all of the worries I could ever need to sink, deep, deep down on the ocean floor where they belong. I want to be where the songs flow freely from my mouth, unafraid, unfailing, unraveling all the questions that otherwise rattle and clang through my busy mind, my tight chest, my furrowed brow. I want to be with the people that feel like home, their joy the hearth, their encouragement these strong walls, their certainty the place where I lay to rest. 

shell (n).

The bones of this are heavy
elbow joints fit like baseballs in our palms
weight bearing hips look like barges, carrying. Always carrying. 
The rib cage stretches over us like a dome
but shelters nothing
keeps nothing out
it no longer covers
and it no longer holds. 

The bones of this are heavy
even missing the highways of veins weaving about
there used to be a city here, organs at work, the heart keeping time.
Oh. Just like poles without a tent
we can build nothing
go nowhere
would we would be better off
leaving this all to turn to sand?

migrate (v).

You showed up like a wild summer, singing bright the leaves on the trees. You showed up like summer, kissing freckles on shoulders and the blushing on cheeks, throwing wide open windows and doors, calling back the birds from their southern beds. You woke me from December's slumber, "wake up! I have warmed your cold feet and cracking hands for you, I have your tired, whimpering heart whistling in the sweet summer breeze."

drudgery (n).

We like to talk about success. We like to talk about adventure. We like to talk about triumph and accomplishment and achievements and great feats that have been overcome. We like to talk once the work is done and the trophy is on the shelf. We like to talk about holidays and dreamy vacation spots and really fancy dinners. We like to look at the harvest.

We do not like to talk about the countless nights that keep us awake and worried, sending us back to the drawing board. We do not like to talk about the hours we've clocked at nothing jobs that pay our rent, the mind-numbing tasks that are included (stocking straws, mopping floors, sharpening crayons [seriously.], filling printers full of papers, 4-5 page (or 1200 word) book reports, not on "what did this teach you" but "regurgitate the text please." Scooping ice cream. Inputting data. Stacking box upon box. Pouring concrete. Polishing glassware. 4am start times/ 4am quitting times).  People on transit at 4am are the definition of doing the grind.

We don't like to talk about the season that is tilling the soil because, think about it, all it is is massaging shit into the earth, really. Blisters in our hands. A breaking in our backs, making us feel old. Sweat soaking shirts. Furrowing brows as we think about all of the work that's left to do. Doubting the rains will ever come, doubting the seeds will take, cursing our lot. Cursing our land.

It's not pretty. It is not swift. This grossmiraculous process that bodies do that makes eight-year-olds giggle whenever they say the word. This is what Life grows in.

We do not like to tell the stories about the time of year when we massage shit into the earth. But this is the time of year that names us, proves us, makes us sprout.