First and foremost, the open palm
of the bathtub, ready to hold whatever
I give it—the crumbs from heartbreak
or mismatched socks of the mind, the lost
girl I thought I was who got so tangled
with what others thought that she couldn’t
tell where and if she was rooted anywhere
but here: floating and porcelain-landing
in the heat evaporating into breath,
some semblance of order while wind
pushes itself through the doorframe.
Later, the bigger bodies: the ponds
no one visits anymore because of all
the bramble and thornery, the long lake
shaped like the fish it no longer holds
while I tip in the nose of the kayak, step
gingerly into the plastic cockpit, balancing
as one must always do on water.
The steady strokes to reach the middle
and wait, let the water lead me into the tangle
of lilies or algae, sidle up to rocks
no one knew before the drought.
What of oceans that don’t allow any
steady drifting but instead a vertical plunge
and jump, teaching me to jump with the waves,
swim with the riptides, try to get out dragging
the weight of gravity back to the sand
until I can walk again? Then the calm
melting into the shore, lifting our eyes
into the distance where there is no distinction.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of 24 books, including How Time Moves: New & Selected Poems; Miriam’s Well, a novel; Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community, and Coming Home to the Body. Founder of Transformative Language Arts, she leads writing workshops widely, coaches people on writing and right livelihood, and consults on creativity. Her new podcast is Tell Me Your Truest Story. Find out more about her at CarynMirriamGoldberg.com, YourRightLivelihood.com, and Bravevoice.com.