Words from books for her

Separation by W. S. Merwin

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

"i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear ..." e. e. cummings



“Things are not all so comprehensible and expressible as one would mostly have us believe; most events are inexpressible, taking place in a realm which no word has ever entered …”

“ … for at bottom, and just in the deepest and most important things, we are unutterably alone, and for one person to be able to advise or even help another, a lot must happen, a lot must go well, a whole constellation of things must come right in order once to succeed.”

“I believe that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension that we find paralyzing because we no longer hear our surprised feelings living. Because we are alone with the alien thing that has entered into our self; because everything intimate and accustomed is for an instant taken away; because we stand in the middle of a transition where we cannot remain standing.”

“We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them.”

“Do not believe that he who seeks to comfort you lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His life has much difficulty and sadness and remains far behind yours. Were it otherwise he would never have been able to find those words.”



This book is delightful. I stumbled across it while searching for a different book and instantly pulled it in close for a good hug. It is silly and sweet and I always imagined reading it to Charlotte when she was sad and in need of a good laugh. My favorite line from the book: If the sun never shines again ... hold fireflies in your hands to keep warm." Oh, but then there is the equally delightful: If you have butterflies in your stomach ... ask them into your heart." I don't know if this book is still in print, but if you ever come across a copy snatch it up for it is charming and sweet.

Days by Billy Collins

Each one is a gift, no doubt,
mysteriously placed in your waking hand
or set upon your forehead
moments before you open your eyes.

Today begins cold and bright,
the ground heavy with snow
and the thick masonry of ice,
the sun glinting off the turrets of clouds.

Through the calm eye of the window
everything is in its place
but so precariously
this day might be resting somehow

on the one before it,
all the days of the past stacked high
like the impossible tower of dishes
entertainers used to build on stage.

No wonder you find yourself
perched on the top of a tall ladder
hoping to add one more.
Just another Wednesday,

you whisper,
then holding your breath,
place this cup on yesterday’s saucer
without the slightest clink.

From The Blues by Billy Collins

Much of what is said here,
must be said twice,
a reminder that no one
takes an immediate interest in the pain of others.

Nobody will listen, it would seem,
if you simply admit
your baby left you early this morning
she didn’t even stop to say good-bye.



“’Goodbye!’ she whispered. Then she summoned all her strength and waved one of her front legs at him.
She never moved again. Next day, as the Ferris wheel was being taken apart and the race horses were being loaded into vans and the entertainers were packing up their belongings and driving away in their trailers, Charlotte died. The Fair Grounds were soon deserted. The sheds and buildings were empty and forlorn. The infield was littered with bottles and trash. Nobody, of the hundreds of people that had visited the Fair, knew that a grey spider had played the most important part of all. No one was with her when she died.”

For Jane by Charles Bukowski

225 days under grass
and you know more than I.
they have long taken your blood,
you are a dry stick in a basket.
is this how it works?
in this room
the hours of love
still make shadows.

when you left
you took almost
everything.
I kneel in the nights
before tigers
that will not let me be.

what you were
will not happen again.
the tigers have found me
and I do not care.



“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they
belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not
your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not
their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even
in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek
not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries
with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path
of the infinite, and He bends you with His
might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand
be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable."

“For what is to die but to stand naked
in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to
free the breath from its restless tides, that
it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of
silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain
top, than you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your
limbs, than shall you truly dance.”

“Thus the spirit separates itself from the body and walks into the world of substance, passing like clouds over the valleys of sorrow and mountains of happiness until it meets the breeze of death and returns to its starting place, the endless ocean of love and beauty which is God.”

From a poem by Christina Reihill

How do I hold your hand and stay
How do I heal
That death
In May

This day
This night
This hour
Long due

This ink
This page
This prayer
For you ...

From July by Jeff Gutterman

“Memories. Like dark threatening clouds hanging over the land you inhabit, silently moving across the mantel of your inner landscape, playing havoc with your neatly arranged thoughts, pushing their way into your world when you least expect or want them, immobilizing and paralyzing everything in their path. Memories.”

“I gave so much of myself for so little in return. When you put yourself out like that, totally and completely, and it doesn’t work the way you want it to, well, it just closes you up so you give less the next time. And each time that happens you remember the hurt and what you may have said that didn’t work. Experience was a harsh teacher. The thought of repeating something that caused me so much pain and made me look at myself as having failed became a non-option …”

“Controlling and moving through the memories of just one lifetime can provide enough hurt on their own to stop someone dead in their tracks from ever taking another step in any direction.”

From In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver

Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

"Undo it, take it back, make every day the previous one until I am returned to the day before the one that made you gone. Or set me on an airplane travelling west, crossing the dateline again and again, losing this day, then that, until the day of loss is still ahead, and you are here, instead of sorrow." Nessa Rapoport - A Woman's Book of Grieving.  

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