Between the City and the Sea

Between the City and the Sea September 25, 2013


My new book of poems, Reduced to Joy, has just been published. The book contains seventy-three poems, retrieved and shaped over the last thirteen years, about the nature of working with what we’re given till it wears us through to joy. For the next few months, I’d like to share poems from the new book with you.

We are constantly reminded how everything is connected. From time to time, the oddest thing will open me to this mystical fact. When former President Ford died, I was drawn into sensing what else was happening around the world at the very same moment.


An old president died just hours after a young

man from Idaho was shot in his sleep in Iraq, and

now in the Sundarban east of the Himalayas, a tiger

licks the eyes of its newborn yet to see, and further east

in Vietnam, a young woman who has worked very hard

to learn how to read is reciting a sutra from Buddha,

in awe how presence moves through words across

the centuries. At the same time, an unwed mother

in Chicago thinks about stealing a blanket as

winter stiffens, and moments after this, a

manta ray in Ecuador wakes because of the

sun’s heat on its back and its sweep over coral

startles the moray back into its nook, and as the

old president’s body cools, a sergeant finds the

boy from Idaho. And just now, in Chile, a

tired couple re-see each other and make love

in the afternoon while clouds come in from the

Pacific. And just now, you stir, the dog stretches,

and far away, two stars collide, a new world forms,

and somewhere between the city and the sea, a child

is born with an untempered capacity to love. In time,

he or she will want to love us all. Remember their

face, though you have never seen it. Speak their

name, though you have never heard it. Mistake

everyone for them. Love everything in the way.

A Question to Walk With: Sit quietly, when you can, and start with where you, and slowly allow your heart to sense what else might be unfolding at the same moment everywhere else on Earth. How does allowing the presence of life in, in this way, affect you?

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