“Do not be what you think you should be.”
Be who you really are.
On the third floor of the hospital, we arrive – some of us, awkwardly, with over-packed strollers, diapers and formula supplies oozing out – others with only child in a sling on our still bloated frames. Our eyes are hollowed, puffy, sleep deprived. There in the open room, we are guided through a line up. This way, please. A nurse’s arm reaches out like a chauffeur; it touches one of our backs and we wonder when someone last held our tender places. We move forward and follow the others, first disrobing our bundled infants, hefty diapers and all. It is crucial to get an accurate starting weight. Some babies’ faces scrunch and let out a whimper, others wail immediately, and some remain as silent as they began. All of them, naked and exposed are placed on a scale, a clear plastic tray that holds their day, week and month old bodies. Numbers are noted and fresh diapers are fastened. Onesies and leggings, still warm, slide over limber arms, legs and bellies. We move forward, waiting for what’s next. Some of us sit with our doe eyes wide and bewildered. Others glance at nearby mothers and begin to chat. Some of us laugh. Some of us cry. Some of us laugh and cry at the same time, a mix of wet faces and unpredictable expressions. Each of us is here, some for the first and only time, others as devoted as holy churchgoers. For most...
The road to my grandparents’ house was the steepest climb I’d encountered. It wasn’t because I was young and the world seemed to maximize itself in front of my maturing eyes – it really was a steep hill. Each time mother’s blinker clicked to turn left after we exited the 15, her foot dug deep into the pedal just as my fingers sunk into the plush fabric of her white Mazda minivan. They lived at the highest point of a private development in Escondido. The time my grandfather decided to buy his home, Escondido was nothing but a town of dust, cacti and outcast residents who couldn’t afford living in the southern region of San Diego where airplanes lifted and dropped, where the coast welcomed Naval ships, and life happened. It was this very slowness that slowly crept up on North County. First, it was the mall, the one I still visit each time I go back to my hometown. Then a Starbucks or two plopped themselves snug in between a gas station and taqueria. By the time I graduated high school, lanes were expanded, street lights installed, and the town was a well-deserving destination, the doorway to the coast where Del Mar beach was where the road finally ended. Grandfather, whether he knew it or not, made his land turn into millions. Though I give my grandmother the credit for the way she skillfully kept blossoms of all kinds up and open, it...
You sit on the table. You and your peach skin, soft and constantly opening. I savor your presence knowing you’re only here a while longer. In a while, you will shed all of yourself and die. Perhaps that is the way each of us comes and goes. Our little hearts, so tightly closed until we have no more effort left and must trust, open, surrender. Once we have, others enjoy our true nature. Your scent reaches me across the table. A ladybug lands on you. I open the windows and share you with the breeze. It is what spring gives us. Hope. Life. I used to think a man, money, a fancy job title could bring me happiness. But the more and more I age, the simpler things become. My home is not filled anymore with soulless store-bought items, plastics and mass-production, but carefully selected pieces. Just like you. The table on which you rest was cut, hammered and stained by a friend whose hands I shook and filled with hard-earned money. The felt bird to your left was poked and shaped by my own hands. This bird is how we begin our day, with a poem, a blessing between mother and child. We rise with joy like singing birds giving thanks for this day. And the napkin to your right, left from this morning’s breakfast, shows faces of friendly felines. This napkin is from my grandmother. Nearing her nineties, she still presses her...
Today I sweep a bird beak the size of a cat’s claw. My broom pushes tiny feathers, a blend of gloomy grey and sunburst yellow – an American Goldfinch, no heavier than a child’s small toy. Just yesterday I watched it singing from the backyard, and today it has become pieces of dust to be collected with sandwich crumbs from today’s lunch, and, every now and then, a raisin or blueberry that seem to have glued their way to the floor from who knows how long ago. It’s not just the sweeping; it’s the wiping too. Today I wipe mustard stains from my son’s lips, cheeks and chin. Daily, I wipe floors, counters, toilets, bottoms, hands and tears. It’s a dirty job. And yet, it makes me feel so alive. Just years ago, I remember sneaking away from my cubicle and thinking of the lifelessness I felt at my job. So many letters typed from timid fingertips, so many people I tried to please that were still unhappy. I remember job applications those early years – the careful wavering of wages, hours, commute, and of course job duties. And now I sweep. I wipe. I work on as little as four hours of sleep some nights. Was I to have been warned of the eternal changes to my body, the sting of sleep deprivation or the patience in soothing tears, calming fears and the responsibility creating a safe haven, I might have passed up...
We skilled prisoners. We, packed with our bulky suitcases of expectations, our years upon years of planning out the road written for us. Each day we polish silver rings around our wrists, their grip so tight from the swelling of running and tugging against our very selves. Nevertheless, with all devotion, we polish, trusting in their false safety, these chimes adorning the sores on our skin whispering promises we’ve distorted generations long. This morning I saw the faintest sliver of light entering the crack of my cell house. I saw a galaxy of infinite stars of dust dancing, their almost invisible bodies bending, jumping, leaping with such freedom. How must it feel to live in the eye of such blind men unafraid to dance, unafraid of wholeness, purity, courage? I neared this wedge of sun – his harshness greeting the dark sockets of my face. In the conference room of my den I began my day a different way. I asked the stranger before me, How will you change? With an intention, a mantra, a prayer? A belief, a song? “Like this,” he spoke, and the longing swirled across daylight: As particles of life dance before you, as sand stretches across shores, as rebels share secrets, as shells collect stories, as birds open their wings – In tiny pitter-patters of the heart our true becoming occurs like this. Like invisible atoms busy at work, in small ways. It was...
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is...
In the library of my home I spend hours digging and searching as if a book or even a final sentence will give me what it is I hope to find. Some days books are sorted by category: … Parenting Poetry Spanish Spiritual … Other days, when the moon lightens the entire room, books have wiggled their way off the shelf and onto a dresser – a quick skim as I dress – or the arm of the living room couch – a moment or two when sipping on tea as my little one runs on the natural rush of boyhood. Whether sorted or scattered, new authors with names unknown, and those forever marked on our tongues, I seek their voices as the call on the other end of the line as my heart shares the latest news. “I am lost,” I tell Mr. Nepo. I open The Book of Awakening for his reply. Or perhaps it’s dear Hafiz I call on lonely days to hear his bellowing laughter as he reminds me The Friend is always near. It is then, as the result after conversing with any good friend, I’m lifted up to carry on for a short while, until, just as the moon, the inevitable cycle continues. What is it – the moon must wonder – she searches for night and day, her eyes scanning tiny bends and folds of black against white? The pages begin thin on one side, thick on...
I am a seed in the feeder. Though there are thousands – each of us with our striped backs, crisp coats and fatty filling – on this particular day, this sparrow chose me. Was it the blackness of my shell or the fragrant oil that attracted him to me – or was it the simple placement of us, a perfect and serendipitous intersection between time and space, luck or fate? Today, as I say, I arose a mere sunflower seed plucked and placed by tired hands of others into a large vessel of light. I sat and did as I often do, waiting, and sitting comfortably. I did not shine the shell of my body, I did not wrestle with the others to slither down into the mouth of the wide-open feeder, screaming, “I am what you want!” Today, I learned the truest calling of a love offering. I was all of myself, entirely. That is what called this sparrow to me. And in giving all of myself, I, in turn, vanished and instantly was given wings. behind the scenes As lovers, as mothers, as friends and as humans, we give so much, it, at times, becomes hard to see why we do such things. Writing and playing with metaphors, the image of a sunflower seed came to mind. Perhaps it is because my son and I have begun a daily ritual of bird feeding in the backyard, watching...
Today I am asked to witness Those around me that I am not: The shiny black coat of my pet Cat moves towards me on all fours. Nuthatches and finches shift From branches to feeder, Fence to ground. The crunch of a dried leaf. The stillness of permanent Brick on which I sit. The steady heat in late morning air, Present yet mild. The powerful roar of motorcycles Passing through town. Bits of green between tight cracks Push their way toward light. The skin of the calla lily coils And curls around itself. Just now my son carries A peach pit to me – Its tiny crevices create a road, like My heart, to dark and ancient chambers. He then shuffles off to a pile of rocks, Lifting and dropping them like bits of sand Each scattering to new patches of soil. In my own ways, I know of the Warmth of rays on my back, How it feels to fly. I know of the moments sitting brick-like Without effort or movement. And the subtle breeze – to be noticed Without saying a word. Perhaps it’s the rock I relate to most of all – Falling again and again, those countless lessons Of surrender, crumbling in humility, But each time lifted with open and eager palms. feature image provided by...
It is a morning where even sunlight is too tired to wake. Not quite dawn, he tucks his bright sun-face behind the sheets of clouds as if masking himself from his duties of his endless days. It is a morning where I now decide I would have changed the night before, cupping my hands around the walls of a warm teacup instead of a the stem of hefty glass of wine, I should have fallen asleep two hours earlier, instead of choosing a few more moments awake, alone. It is a morning, I imagine, in some distant northern state, where white clouds are dropping dust-light flakes to the ground. Though here, the earth is bare and brown, we too see bleak skies. It is a morning I wake with dainty wings reluctantly building their courage to open. Were I to wake alone and much later, I’d miss morning mists, honking of horns quick to park in designated spaces for the remainder of the day, and the greetings of robins, sparrows, chickadees and the like. I’d miss the blending of crayon colored skies adjusting into solid hues. I do not wake alone, but with my dear one in my arms, his hay-colored hair whispering into my ear. His teddy bear body nestled against me, his blue jay eyes kissing everything they see. He waves his miniature hand and looks up for the sky that is unseen through closed curtains. Only the transition from...
Each morning we rise the same way.
Our footsteps tiptoe along damp floorboards
Careful not to walk too loudly
As to please the one that wipes the dust left from days before.
We take these tired feet into the world
Cover them with straps, secure Velcro, lace sneakers,
Slip our insecurities
Into the safety of hiding our true selves.
Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.Read More
an email response
a bill to pay
a friend awaiting a call
the blinking of messages and alerts all mixed into a swarm of more obligations
a pile of laundry to transfer into rooms
another bundle to dry
dishes to unload then load again
a counter to wipe, spilled drinks, crumbles of meals
I wore a white dress lined with lace. My hair was pinned with curls. Spring daffodils and alstroemeria, stock and freesia spilled from my fingers. A guitar was finger-picked as I walked down the steps of a redwood grove in the crook of my grandfather’s arm. The man I promised to love, his eyes were pools of devotion, hope and joy. It was one of the most memorable days of my life. And we cried. We made promises. We exchanged bands secured tightly to the ring fingers of our left hands. We sealed our love with a kiss. Open hearts witnessing our promises cheered. Then we danced.Read More
today i harvest cilantro from my garden
kale and basil too
these flowering vegetables, herbs, just weeks ago
buried beneath the earth
i think of the soil
the nurturing required to care for such miraclesRead More
They felt a final push. Ours ended
with the sharp cut of a blade.
Their baby felt the constriction
of their mother’s deepening canal.Read More
There comes a time when one realizes the cage was unlocked all along. Learn More