Thank you, instinct

Thank you, instinct

I got this framed photo with the most perfect perfect quote beneath it in the mail this weekend. I mean, only someone who knows you (and loves you anyway) would give you a framed photo of your own damn self for your birthday.

A few weeks ago my sister told me that she’s been telling herself, when things get hard, “Everything turns out okay in the end, so this must not be the end.” And it keeps her going. I kind of didn’t get it, but I’ve borrowed it since and it’s been helpful as fuck. Like so so so so helpful. I offer it to you.

Tonight I was looking for this prompt to use for something else and realized that I’d saved it as a draft nearly four years ago and never posted it. How can that be? That you are here reading this and I am here writing it means we survived everything that came before this moment. And this moment itself may be a preparation for what comes next. Whether we think we deserve it or not, whether we are completely grateful for our survival or not, perhaps we can turn and face it in this writing.


Yusef Komunyakaa

Thanks for the tree
between me & a sniper’s bullet.
I don’t know what made the grass
sway seconds before the Viet Cong
raised his soundless rifle.
Some voice always followed,
telling me which foot
to put down first.
Thanks for deflecting the ricochet
against that anarchy of dusk.
I was back in San Francisco
wrapped up in a woman’s wild colors,
causing some dark bird’s love call
to be shattered by daylight
when my hands reached up
& pulled a branch away
from my face. Thanks
for the vague white flower
that pointed to the gleaming metal
reflecting how it is to be broken
like mist over the grass,
as we played some deadly
game for blind gods.
What made me spot the monarch
writhing on a single thread
tied to a farmer’s gate,
holding the day together
like an unfingered guitar string,
is beyond me. Maybe the hills
grew weary & leaned a little in the heat.
Again, thanks for the dud
hand grenade tossed at my feet
outside Chu Lai. I’m still
falling through its silence.
I don’t know why the intrepid
sun touched the bayonet,
but I know that something
stood among those lost trees
& moved only when I moved.

Your prompt: address, with gratitude, the things, the people, the moments, the images, even the griefs that led you to turn and pivot and turn again and arrive somehow, to this day.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *