So I guess this is my last post of 2016. Which I am pretty glad about. I guess it’s also supposed to be a most hopeful, resolution-filled here’s how we’re going to be better in 2017 post as well (if you need that, look here for last year’s). Which isn’t exactly where my head is. I have been thinking about this post for a month or so, trying to figure out what I’ll write.
Maybe I’ll do a top five favorite books I read this year? Altogether ignore the problem of promises about how the world will be next year? Okay so my top five are: Sapiens, Upstream, Hope in the Dark, Citizen, All They Will Call You, Teaching a Stone to Talk (which I reread and was even more astounded by), A Wave in the Mind, Nonviolent Communication (also a reread), Tribe, Our Beleaguered Species, The Breakbeat Poets, A Visit from the Goon Squad…Oh forget it. That was a bad idea. How about a metaphor?
I’ve been knitting since I was small–I was a Montessori kid and my mom knits and so knitting has been something I’ve come back to on and off, getting better at it over time. I only knit small, simple, achievable things. When you miss a stitch while knitting, sometimes you don’t realize it until you’ve gone a few rows past it. Then you have to carefully unravel backwards to the place where the missed loop is and start over. Take the edge of the yarn and unravel and unravel and unravel. This is harder than it ought to be.
My optimism is in jeopardy. A few weeks ago, we had a really brilliant guest who said (paraphrasing), “After war, you don’t go back to where you were before war. You shouldn’t. That’s the situation that led you into war in the first place. Maintaining peace is a different thing altogether.”
The whole room collectively nodded.
Thankfully, my ramble is just a formality and you’re really here for the poem and prompt. Renee Emerson did the work. Use her title: “What to Leave Behind” and write–maybe make a list. What are you leaving behind so that you can move toward a new peace?
What to Leave Behind
What drove you there in the first place. That garden that wouldn’t grow, roots
that wouldn’t take. The missing pieces and the objects with pieces missing;
the cords that charge we-don’t-know-what. Small machines you never knew
how to work, gifts you welcomed but had no place for. Anything broken—
cracked mug seeping coffee onto countertops, circling absence.
Who cares if your name is on it, if you bought it vacationing somewhere
not here. The streets you knew the names of but never drove: Sherwood, Alto, Third
The job you couldn’t land, the friendship dissolved, the table not welcomed round
What we could’ve done with the place: those French doors we never put in,
yard we never leveled. What we could’ve done with the city, our lives, ourselves.
We’ve kept that like a live thing. Bury it. Let clover spread its three and lucky four
winged green across the blank-check in the dirt, which, like all else on this good earth.
was never truly ours to begin with.