I could begin with a broken fingernail.
And sketch the lines towards my heart along the twisting bones and flesh grooved in fishbone patterns, like the mapping of tiny streams flowing towards a sea. Always flowing –
along the knotty veins that rise above the surface, in vulnerable, bruised smudges of charcoal.

The details are sharp, and the shading gives depth and yet, as always, the form of the whole is lost along the way.

Who said that we lose our loves little by little, then all at once? No. I am misremembering and conflating. John Green wrote of falling in love slowly, then all at once. And then someone else wrote of losing their money little by little, then all at once.

Does it matter? I suppose it is our resistance to change that makes the it seem true for so much of our lives.

But I lose at once, and then little by little.
I’ve walked backwards through my life: old before young, guilty before innocent, fragmented before whole.

How will I die, then?

A life drawing instructor told me my problem wasn’t with the details, but with the form as a whole.
A perfect ear.
An expressive curve of an exposed shoulder.
A sensually carved ankel.
An exquisite corpse of entrances and exits like divas jostling for center stage.
An exquisite corpse does not breathe: “Get it together, girl.”

But this long echo of a swansong:
I’m still trying to piece it together: to get it down in diagramed sentences.
“I’ve always loved diagramming sentences.”
Dissecting thoughts.
Making them real.

It makes them comprehensible for a tender bit of heart
muscle that already accepts that everything falls
to pieces, then gathers like so many fishbones
and flows to the sea.

The tomatoes I replanted when they outgrew the greenhouse are now rotting greenly on the vine. I figure there is a metaphor there.

The garden was never cultivated. I never cultivated the garden.

The coriander sprouted – then flowered, and quickly went to seed. The beets were too crowded to thrive, and the sweet potatoes sent shoots where there was no soil in which to land.

I’ve no idea what’s up with the strawberry plants, with their wide, lily pad-like leaves, but no berries.

I’ve brought the angel wing into the house now that the temperatures have dropped below 15C. The perennials are dying. Or going dormant.

The honeysuckle has twined its way far past the trellis I put up in May. It’s choking the thuja, but blooming with such a fragrance that I can’t bring myself to cut it back.

I do have hope. There’s the winter to read, and to learn. And there is something to be said for learning one’s place in the making of things.

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.


There is a personal grief in private failures, in every missed deadline – every lost hour.
And a communal mourning for every collective dream deferred.

I’ve been meditating on impermanence. I even learned to spell the word correctly. But accepting that things are always in motion is easier than accepting the futility of our determinations with regard to where that motion will take us.

My circle of influence is tiny.

But I smile at the woman I pass in the grocery store and hope there are ripples of influence. Maybe that is all any of us can do. And maybe this is everything?

This, and the daily attention required to cultivate what we plant?

I spent Saturday brooding a mood of discontent.
Fortunately the shell is thin and cracks easily –

I ran in the evening.
And the forest is always a place for sloughing what’s become useless
and for new growth.

We are wild things, after all.

Cultivation is a balancing act.