The tree is empty save for red berries and full, green leaves, until you come with a partner one Saturday, early. Checking out the territory, you dance on its branches: one inside - then out - one inside - then out. I have questions for you: is it nesting time? can this be your new home? will the berries be enough? The tree is empty, filled only with hope as you navigate its branches. I sit, empty too, still as a plant, watching you: afraid to move - scared you'll fly away.
Days before she died, Mom sat, legs over the side of her bed, gazing out the window onto the sunny street: "I wish it would snow once - just for me," she said.
I think that, too, sometimes. There is a longing in this dry place: when life is dry, empty. I'd love to see the snow then, flakes falling, silent, to the ground, the heavens shaking their down pillows. I'd like to be in that quiet place for a few moments, surrender my busy mind to it, welcome the holy silence, the emptiness - all that space. Mary Elyn Bahlert, February 27, 2022
Acedia: spiritual or mental sloth; apathy
Monks in their cells in the Middle Ages rose before dawn to pray. Instead, they walked that narrow room, back and forth, back and forth, all day. Some called this a sin, this rocking in their stiff chairs, the unwillingness to kneel, to pray. The days of cloistering went on eternally, it seemed. We've been sheltering for months, the agitated monk inside us growing, growling, longing to be free again. Still he paces, frantic and passive. Call it a sin. Call it malaise, a fever. Acedia has risen from the ashes to mark this time. Mary Elyn Bahlert 10/2020
for his birth-day
Nothing like a bargain to make this guy happy:
two for the price of one!
His eyes shining, he snaps up extra boxes of cereal and jars of pickle relish – how many will fit in the cart?
Hauls them home, proudly.
He’s like that with life, too –
can’t get enough of it,
as if it all came for free –
We sat, together on the edge of your single bed, in that narrow room.
There, you would die, within the year.
I told you that your little brother was dead: “Uncle Pete died.”
Your green eyes filled with tears – I had seldom seen you cry –
a small sob escaped.
You were remembering, I guess,
those complicated years of disenchantment, and love.
In a moment your face cleared – you smiled,