“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
—The Serenity Prayer
I was born arrow-straight, built for flying,
Three skipping stones past Otter Creek, hollow
Bones blanketed by slate gray, blue stones slight
And callused by well-worn prayers and shallow
Swells of minnows — subterranean aches —
And water cold on yellow scales, hardened
By the calamity of sunsets, lakes —
The drowning weight of too many pardons.
Dip low, tend this broken shoreline sweetly,
Spread shadowed wings and break honeyed silence.
Forgiveness take flight at dusk, discreetly
Written in psalms. Tepid soul find balance
Between the calm, a resting river space
This old trembling mind cannot displace.
After the storm, the chaos and quiet
Meet like dew poised on timid fingertips
And shallow grasses to quell the riot
Stirring inside. Fix fragments of this ship
Made of broken parts. My soul’s petrichor:
Inhale failure with a benediction
That fills tired lungs with bravery, before
Nature proposed expectations — fiction
Taut and mended by truth. The earth exhales
In breaths refreshed by rain, accompanied
By loudening trills and harmonious tales —
The tremor of circumstance, and the need
To continue existence like the weeds
That grow in sidewalks despite human greed.
III. The Pelican and the Gull
American Magicicadas choose
To surface seventeen years after birth
For the purpose of recreation. The Blue
Pelican cannot quietly unearth
The patterns of the tide without the gull,
But she does so with tireless trials
And the moon at her back — the lunar pull
Shaping stray shells for a little while.
Twenty-one years of tawny solitude
Shattered by innate desires, buried
Deep by stubborn aches, and kindly allude
To breathing for the first time. Weight carried
And lifted by rekindled hope, reaching
Sands like a button shell kissing the beach.
I pondered self-acceptance before diving
Into seas uncharted, with the patience
Of Tibetan monks softly harvesting
Grains of sand on an abandoned shore. Since
Emptiness is impermanence, we change
Like shifting seas suspended in nature,
Born from the crease of God’s hand — rearranged
Flaws bound by circumstance. Come close. Nurture
This silent heart into awakening.
Beyond these gray waters surges the sun,
Hopeful in the wake of a newfound spring,
Ochre and alizarin. We become —
Aware that no one saves us but ourselves,
With self-worth rising in tremendous swells.