Thursday, August 17, 2006

Poetry Thursday

This is my first entry in Poetry Thursday. This week the prompt is whatever pleases me.
I wrote this poem in the big yellow writing group not even a year ago, and it may have been the first time I read my poetry aloud. It's also my favorite for reasons that come from the heart.

If I were dying tonight,
Lying in my bed with plastic tubes and half-filled bottles
On the small table nearby
and bedpans and oxygen there to diminish any shame,
Perhaps forcing my breaths
with the strength of a desperate parent
who implausibly and frantically lifts two tons
of mangled steel off a broken daughter—
If I were dying tonight and I wished to tell you
What will astonish you,
I would tell you this:

Be sure to notice white flowers in the moonlight,
Because the softened glow is like no other.

Appreciate the lingering scent of garlic on your fingers,
Because healing is possible from that alone.

Tell the truth when it matters least
Because then you will be sure there is another honest person in the world.

Always spend the extra money for dimmers
Because light that builds in intensity and then gently fades is
good for your spirit.

Over and over, ask yourself, “What is the lesson here?”
Because then you will forever be a student and never a victim

Never believe for a moment that the world is going to hell
Because you only need to love outside yourself to know better.


If I were dying tonight, I would tell you all this
Because astonishment is brethren to curiosity,
Which leads to observation,
And dedication,
And finally appreciation.

If I were dying tonight, perhaps there would only be minutes,
Perhaps only seconds,
To tell you that I will leave with all the love
I have ever felt, and ever given.
I will take it all with me, tucked under my angel wing—
The accumulation of grace from every breath I have ever taken.

Here’s what’s astonishing: I will also leave all that love behind,
It will be imbedded in my daughter’s stunning light and my partner’s quiet
courage,
It will guide my friends and coworkers when the layoff comes.
My brother will remember how I tried to do my share
And Joey will find someone else like me to help him tame his fears.
Even the woman at the grocery store that day I let her go ahead of me—will remember how we were both comforted from that simple act.


If I were dying tonight, I would also tell you
That within, under, because of, and from the little moments
Comes all the wonder and astonishment you could ever hope for.
The little moments that aren’t so little.
I would tell you to let those moments astonish you.
I would tell you this because it is all you need to know.

25 comments:

  1. Welcome! This poem hit me right in the heart. It's funny how you never know who you are touching when you blog. I have Lou Gehrig's disease and I absolutely LOVED this! Thank you :)

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  2. kj, I'm printing it this time. I remember the silence that followed this poem in the living room at NFN's. We were all in awe.

    "Over and over, ask yourself, “What is the lesson here?”
    Because then you will forever be a student and never a victim

    Never believe for a moment that the world is going to hell
    Because you only need to love outside yourself to know better."

    Simply beautiful.

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  3. You know I love this, kj. An amazing piece -- I'm happy to see it again.

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  4. Is this your poem?
    I must know
    For if it is
    then this is so

    You touch my heart
    and bring a tear
    and with your words
    soften fear

    Please keep writing
    oft and true
    And I will read
    these words of you.

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  5. "Over and over, ask yourself, 'What is the lesson here?'
    Because then you will forever be a student and never a victim."

    Love this part. And all the rest, too.

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  6. kj… your wwordss touched me deeply… if i were to die tonight… i would be thankful for having read them…

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  7. I really like:

    "implausibly and frantically lifts two tons
    of mangled steel off a broken daughter"

    YOu have a way with words, nice and lyrical. Thanks for posting~

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  8. kj- the more I read of your poetry, the more I love your style. This one gave me chills and a tear at the end!

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  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  10. I don't do sweet, sentimental tears very often; I generally reserve that right for made-for-television movies and sappy, blockbuster love stories.

    But I have to say, this poem settled there, conjuring up a few tears despite my intent otherwise.

    There is such a gentle warmth and wisdom in these words, words that shelter you from the rough edges of the world, softening the blows.

    This is a poem that takes your hand, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear and somehow, after reading it, you know all will be alright.

    Incredible work.

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  11. Reading this caused me to stop and take a deep breathe--and just enjoy how good that breathe felt.

    Thanks kj.
    :)

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  12. thank you all so much. i admit this poem makes me cry just about every time i read it. i guess love can do that.

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  13. Over and over, ask yourself, “What is the lesson here?”
    Because then you will forever be a student and never a victim


    i LOVED this -- such sage advice. i am so glad you visited my blog so that i could discover yours!

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  14. i am loving every bit of this poem. every single bit. thank you. you are have written, so beautifully here, the very beliefs that carry me through. really great stuff.

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  15. KJ,

    I have been reading this poem over and over. I started leaving a comment but I always end up not posting it. Sometimes, when something is so beautiful, it is best not to say anything else about it.

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  16. Oh, kj, this is such an amazing poem and it was good to see/hear it again. My favorite line is this:

    If I were dying tonight, I would tell you all this
    Because astonishment is brethren to curiosity,
    Which leads to observation,
    And dedication,
    And finally appreciation.

    I thought a lot about Susan as I read this. I'm still so torn about her death and your words brought a nice balm to that confusion. Thank you so much for posting this piece.

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  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  18. KJ,

    I keep coming back to this poem.

    Your first stanza is very powerful. I always think that it is a great honor to witness the passing of another human being. To provide comfort to the dying.

    When I was an emergency nurse I have seen many deaths, alas while we were frantically resuscitating the human being, sticking tubes and needles, pumping and suctioning orifices. To resuscitate life is our goal, in the hope that the human being can continue his or her objective in life and then die a quiet and dignified death some other day.

    I have been honored to witness the passing of my Mother and to be with my Mother-in-Law during her dying days. I would give anything to have a loved one die in a peaceful and dignified manner. Death is just another stage of living.

    There are people who by virtue of the way they lived their lives, death and dying is a step to eternal life. They have left our world but in our hearts and minds they live eternal, their lives go on in those they love.

    "Tell the truth when it matters least" sums the life of a virtuous human being.

    This is a beautiful poem and while it is introduced by a dying scene it actually tells about a person's beautiful and virtuous life.

    Stunning and powerful.

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  19. Where have you been my friend in blog?
    Yours words tore at my heart and yet gave me hope. So beautiful. Thank for sharing this beautiful poem.

    bd

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  20. Wonderful, gentle, graceful, insightful, lovely. I'm so glad you wrote - and shared - this.

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  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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