creating me [using words]

The Work of Waking

At the risk of sounding melodramatic
it is really hard to be me sometimes
by sometimes I mean every morning
each day getting out of the sheets
bearing the weight of a real day
I am like a bear waking–not
wanting to wake–from hibernation
Leave me alone, World of Ache,
Wide, Wide World of Longing,
All this Knowing about pain,
Stay out of my cave!
I pull pillows ’round my ears
to block the sounds of living
and hearts breaking
but these deafening fissures are cracks
making space for light
I blink my sleepy eyes
I lumber, I lope
matted fur heavy like a weighted
blanket I reluctantly leave behind
Down to the river to bathe,
to feed, the water is cold,
Waking is such work,
“But don’t go back to bed,”
something wild calls,
“or you’ll miss the spring.”


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5 thoughts on “The Work of Waking

  1. Amen to this, Kyndall. Your poem brought to mind “What Work Is,” by Philip Levine.

    What Work Is

    We stand in the rain in a long line
    waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
    You know what work is–if you’re
    old enough to read this you know what
    work is, although you may not do it.
    Forget you. This is about waiting,
    shifting from one foot to another.
    Feeling the light rain falling like mist
    into your hair, blurring your vision
    until you think you see your own brother
    ahead of you, maybe ten places.
    You rub your glasses with your fingers,
    and of course it’s someone else’s brother,
    narrower across the shoulders than
    yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
    that does not hide the stubbornness,
    the sad refusal to give in to
    rain, to the hours wasted waiting,
    to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
    a man is waiting who will say, “No,
    we’re not hiring today,” for any
    reason he wants. You love your brother,
    now suddenly you can hardly stand
    the love flooding you for your brother,
    who’s not beside you or behind or
    ahead because he’s home trying to
    sleep off a miserable night shift
    at Cadillac so he can get up
    before noon to study his German.
    Works eight hours a night so he can sing
    Wagner, the opera you hate most,
    the worst music ever invented.
    How long has it been since you told him
    you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
    opened your eyes wide and said those words,
    and maybe kissed his cheek? You’ve never
    done something so simple, so obvious,
    not because you’re too young or too dumb,
    not because you’re jealous or even mean
    or incapable of crying in
    the presence of another man, no,
    just because you don’t know what work is.

    • First, I loved this poem! Thank you for sharing; I’ve not read it before. Beautiful. Secondly, this reminds me of Sunday’s sermon actually, on finding and knowing our true work and having the courage to do it. Also, reminds me of Clarissa Pinkola Estes, “It is our work to learn. If one wishes to love, there is no getting around it. To love pleasure takes little. To love truly takes a hero who can manage his own fear . . . [Heroes] contemplate what they fear, and paradoxically, respond with both conviction and wonder. . . Fear is a poor excuse for not doing the work. We are all afraid. It is nothing new. If you are alive, you are fearful . . . What must die in me in order for me to love? . . . power . . . awaits lovers who go beyond running away, who push beyond a desire to find themselves safe.”

      • That’s a Clarissa mouthful there, wisdom stacked on wisdom, much like the last five minutes of your last sermon: those waves just kept pounding. So glad that you post audio AND word documents: “Idlers and Busybodies” will take both my ears and eyes to plumb its depths.

        Levine is worth your while. He’s actually been to San Antonio twice in the last ten years; with his advanced age, he’s perhaps not likely to return, but if he does, you’d want to see him and – if Gemini Ink brings him again – you’ll want to take his class.

  2. Once again, I love your willingness to share all the sides of your journey. All this “darker” work feeds the radiance (dark and light) of your sermons.

  3. It is encouraging to a read a piece that describes my experience, too! :)

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creating me [using words]


creating me [using words]

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