If you live on the cutting edge,
surely you’ll get cut.
If you live the simple life,
it won’t be simple.
If you sit at a desk composing words
the alphabet will mock you,
or you’ll drown in the currents
of the page.
Work hard. Be lazy.
Money will come and go
like green leaves in their season.
But don’t forget
the wise man and the fool
are blood brothers.
At the end
is the sun, the moon:
arterial red, bone white.
“Commencement Address” by Linda Pastan, from Insomnia. © W. W. Norton, 2015.
I have been a devoted fan of Linda Pastan since 1982 when I came across her book The Five Stages of Grief. Her words skewered me and bled me and set me free to grieve during my mother’s illness. This poem showed up today in The Writer’s Almanac — a sign, I firmly believe — and I am reassessing the next few days to figure out what matters to my well but rumpled soul.
I flew back to Seattle yesterday to my writing space, the crabby squirrels, chirping crows and waving neighbors. Awaiting on a lease and wondering if I will stay at this Nest for much longer. My words are stuck somewhere on the roof of my mouth — or brain — but I believe they will spill soon enough. I am well if a little battered by an oral surgeon, a bone spur in my hip and fears about what exactly does this long string of challenges mean.
But oh, the sunrises. The smell of the massive fir tree by my door. The hummingbirds flying by on the way to the sunflowers. The thought of fresh fish tacos on my cousin’s deck.
I sit today and absorb them all. This matters. And mends.