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“The Hug”
by Tess Gallagher

A woman is reading a poem on the street
and another woman stops to listen. We stop too.
with our arms around each other.

Suddenly a hug comes over me and I’m
giving it to you, like a variable star shooting light
off to make itself comfortable, then
subsiding. I finish but keep on holding
you. A man walks up to us and we know he hasn’t
come out of nowhere, but if he could, he
would have. He looks homeless because of how
he needs. “Can I have one of those?” he asks you,
and I feel you nod. I’m surprised,
surprised you don’t tell him how
it is – that I’m yours, only
yours, etc., exclusive as a nose to
its face. Love – that’s what we’re talking about, love
that nabs you with “for me
only” and holds on.

So I walk over to him and put my
arms around him and try to
hug him like I mean it. He’s got an overcoat on
so thick I can’t feel
him past it. I’m starting the hug
and thinking, “How big a hug is this supposed to be?
How long shall I hold this hug?” Already
we could be eternal, his arms falling over my
shoulders, my hands not
meeting behind his back, he is so big!

I put my head into his chest and snuggle
in. I lean into him. I lean my blood and my wishes
into him. He stands for it. This is his
and he’s starting to give it back so well I know he’s
getting it. This hug. So truly, so tenderly
we stop having arms and I don’t know if
my lover has walked away or what, or
whether the woman is still reading the poem…

Clearly, a little permission is a dangerous thing.
But when you hug someone you want it
to be a masterpiece of connection, the way the button
on his coat will leave the imprint of
a planet in my cheek
when I walk away. When I try to find some place
to go back to.

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.”
—Kahlil Gibran

[School of Life video: “We often think that the best way to have friends is to be deeply impressive and accomplished. In fact, the route to true friendship always flows through vulnerability.”]

And the Universe said

[image of a Google search prompt showing: and the universe said, and the universe said i love you, and the universe said you are not alone, and the universe said you are the daylight]

“Want”
by Carrie Fountain

The wasps outside
the kitchen window
are making that
thick, unraveling sound
again, floating in
and out of the bald head
of their nest,
seeming not to move
while moving,
and it has just occurred
to me, standing,
washing the coffeepot,
watching them hang
loosely in the air—thin
wings; thick, elongated
abdomens; sad, down—
pointing antennae—
that this
is the heart’s constant
project: this simple
learning; learning
how to hold
hopelessness
and hope together;
to see on the unharmed
surface of one
the great scar
of the other; to recognize
both and to make
something of both;
to desire everything
and nothing
at once and to desire it
all the time;
and to contain that desire
fleshly, in a body;
to wash it and rest it
and feed it; to learn
its name and from whence
it came; and to speak
to it—oh, most of all
to speak to it—
every day, every day,
saying to one part,
“Well, maybe this is all
you get,” while saying
to the other, “Go on,
break it open, let it go.”

[via The Writer’s Almanac]

“Spring Giddiness”
By Rumi

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let’s buy it.

Daylight, full of small dancing particles
and the one great turning, our souls
are dancing with you, without feet, they dance.
Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?

All day and night, music,
a quiet, bright
reedsong. If it
fades, we fade.

“Own Your Own Pain”
by Patricia Roth Schwartz

Own your own pain.
Why not? It’s yours.

You’ve hawked it, pushed it, pimped it –
now,

Your body, breathing, life, guts, luster,
sweetness, softness,
pays the price.

So own your own pain. Why not?

You’ve eaten it for breakfast,
Sung it to sleep at night,
Rinsed it out in the basin,
Watched it rise with the bread.

So- take it, turn it,
Let it slither,
Into blood-beat, breast-bone, cell-song,
skin.

Give it a name.
What you possess
Cannot possess you.

“I don’t think pain goes away. I think we make room for it. With time, love, forgiveness, and healing, it eventually takes up less room. Not until then, are we able to fill up that space with a sense of peace and joy in our heart and soul.”

–Brigitte Nicole

“The Journey”
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice-
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do-
determined to save
the only life that you could save.