ESSAY

Week 4

Because we spill not only milk

Knocking it over with an elbow

When we reach to wipe a small face

But also spill seed on soil we thought was fertile but isn't,

And also spill whole lives, and only later see in fading light

How much is gone and we hadn't intended it

Because we tear not only cloth

Thinking to find a true edge and instead making only a hole

But also tear friendships when we grow

And whole mountainsides because we are so many

And we want to live right where black oaks lived,

Once very quietly and still

Because we forget not only what we are doing in the kitchen

And have to go back to the room we were in before,

Remember why it was we left

But also forget entire lexicons of joy

And how we lost ourselves for hours

Yet all that time were clearly found and held

And also forget the hungry not at our table

Because we weep not only at jade plants caught in freeze

And precious papers left in rain

But also at legs that no longer walk

Or never did, although from the outside they look like most others

And also weep at words said once as though

They might be rearranged but which

Once loose, refuse to return and we are helpless

Because we are imperfect and love so

Deeply we will never have enough days,

We need the gift of starting over, beginning

Again: just this constant good, this

Saving hope.

~ Nancy Shaffer ~

(Instructions in Joy)