Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Statistical Miracle

I like writing occasional poetry...not just poetry now and then, but poetry that marks an occasion. It's like being given an assignment. You have a purpose and a due date.

My most recent occasional poem was for Dave's birthday. I wrote him a birthday poem last year, as well as Valentine's Day poems last year and this year. I guess I'm in for it now.

Once I went to a talk by a Buddhist meditation leader. His topic was loss of a love, as in the break-up of a marriage, partnership or friendship. He was encouraging us to think about the fact that change is a given, and that people will always float in and out of our lives. When someone floats out, instead of grasping at them, think about this: There was a time we didn't know that person. There was a time when we existed, and they existed, separately.

It sounds simple. But I love to think about that. Not only does it help me in terms of loss but in terms of being in relationships. Thinking about our separateness somehow sweetens the fact that others people our lives. That others choose to be in our sphere. That others choose to love us.

And also this: There's the wonderful mystery of how we find others. There are almost 7 billion people on this planet. When we move into the sphere of others, it's a statistical miracle!

So that's what I was thinking about when I wrote this year's birthday poem for Dave.


Birthday Hymn

I envision scenes before we met,
the film reel of my imagination

reversed. A flight attendant
hands you tea. At a gas station

you pump gas into a car I've
never been in. There you are,

underwater, mantas flying by.
And now you walk a faraway

path near a cliff overlooking
an infinity of sea. Now you're

in your father's shop, checking
on something too distant for

me to detect. You were an early
baby, delicate. And once you

floated in the dark, honeyed
womb, and before that the blue

unknown. Today I praise your
storied body, infused with light

I praise the way you pour
into me, and I onto you. Life

is as minute as it is vast
Life is as random as it is designed.

As strangers perhaps we once passed
on the street, your hand brushing mine.
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