Changing Stories

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The amazing Kate Gale ran workshops for us last week. She shared some poems she loves, read us some of her own incredible work and then challenged us to rewrite our own stories. Kate shared this incredible poem by Brynn Saito (linked here at Drunken Boat), and another poem by Saito. Kate’s prompt was about writing a new story so you know where you want this arc to go. But I don’t know if I’m quite ready for that. I might need to go back and rewrite the old ones first. Be sure that I’ve not thrown out the baby with the bath water.
What strikes me so much about the poem below is its sweetness. Dear story, dear lover, you are beautiful and I chose you with my eyes open, but now I must go. You are the one who gave me the courage, ‘told me I was wild’ but that very thing that you awoke in me is what I must honor by leaving. But not without gratitude for your gifts. No blame. A very peaceful thing. It is what every goodbye should be. So before I can write my next story, I have some peace to make, some good to remember, some gifts to reopen and put on the mantle.

What is the thing you must walk away from? What era in your life must you leave behind? You were there for a reason, some good came of it. Hold that. Whether it’s a person, or a time, or a battle, or a job, or even a feeling, write to it as if it can hear you. Write to it with gratitude for lessons learned.

I wish you peace and a capacity for gratitude. Be well, keep writing, keep sending me poems. This world is large, but

The Palace of Contemplating Departure

You wandered through my life like a backwards wish
when I was readying for deliverance.

I was ready for release
like a pinball in God’s mouth
like charanga on Tuesdays
like the summer in Shanghai

when we prayed for a rainstorm
and bartered our shame, then we tore open oranges
with four dirty thumbs.

And the forecast said Super
so we chartered a yacht
and we planted a garden on the unbending prow

but the sea said Surrender
with its arms full of salt, and wind shook the seeds
from our shirt coat pockets

so when we washed up on the shoreline of sunlight
near the city of wind
we were broken and thin, like wraiths at a wake.

But you tilted your head up and told me I was wild
so I lifted my life
and I lifted your life

and we wandered through the gate of radiant days
then we married our splendor
in the hall of bright rule.

And I thank you again: you gave madness a chance
and you lassoed the morning
and we met on a Tuesday
in a dance hall in Shanghai
and I left you in a leap year for the coveted shoreline

and you wept like a book when it’s pulled from a well.

But you were the one who told me I was wild
and you were the one who wrestled the angel

and I knew when I left you
that courage was a choice
and memory, a spear,
and the X of destination is etched on my iris
and shifts with the seasons—

don’t think of the phoenix, think of the mountain.

But where will I go now with my tireless wonder?
And when will I again be brave like that?< />

One thought on “Changing Stories

  1. Justin

    I was reading through your page like I enjoy doing from time to time and the below excerpt hit me hard Got me to thinking about all the ways I have and have not said goodbye.

    “Dear story, dear lover, you are beautiful and I chose you with my eyes open, but now I must go. You are the one who gave me the courage, ‘told me I was wild’ but that very thing that you awoke in me is what I must honor by leaving. But not without gratitude for your gifts.”

    I wrote something down maybe trying to justify my own past goodbyes. I know that I will choose my words and ways a little more carefully from now on. This is what came out.

    Stepping forward into the future means leaving the past, which is goodbye even if it’s unintentional or unobserved. I live life on the edge of a blade, staying where I am is as dangerous as moving. My life is infected with eternal goodbyes. Not saying goodbye is not an option, I must close the chapter even if it seems unfinished. Reflecting on goodbyes is something that can crush my heart and make me smile at the same time. It is a necessity to be good at goodbyes. It’s something that is forced upon up me. It’s a part of the accumulative burden that I have agreed to carry. I am good at doing it with a smile on my face despite the pain in my stomach. Each goodbye is unique, adding, and subtracting from who I am. It’s a piece of who I’ve grown into and so I accept it and embrace it.

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