Poetic Prescription Refills: HOPE

After His Diagnosis
By Margaret Hasse

Weeks after ice-out,
last fall’s leaves
make a pathway
to the lake, radiant blue
and still deathly cold.

I press my hot forehead
to the window,
smudging it. Blow
and the glass steams.
As if looking at a photo
through parchment,
I’m detached,
the way I saw his body
in the CAT scan
from a foggy distance.

I’d like to open the window,
release a wounded bird
nursed to health.
Wiping the glass
with my sleeve
I see white pelicans
wheel and flash in the sky.

By Jennifer Richter

The healer said to me: it worked because you thought it would. I
let him palm my belly and chest; sometimes he shook and
closed his eyes. Inches above my skin, he’d sweep his hands like
smoothing sheets I couldn’t see. I left our bed for years when I
was sick. I understood our children then: bed meant missing out;
bed felt like punishment. Now I sleep best at the edge—where
the healer sat to rest. Your hand reaches for my hip, holds on. Our
children’s mouths sigh open in the dark. They’re not surprised:
the healer touched me, and it worked. They’ve seen magicians—
beneath the sheet that’s pulled away, something’s always gone.

The Conditional
By Ada Limón

Say tomorrow doesn’t come.
Say the moon becomes an icy pit.
Say the sweet-gum tree is petrified.
Say the sun’s a foul black tire fire.
Say the owl’s eyes are pinpricks.
Say the raccoon’s a hot tar stain.
Say the shirt’s plastic ditch-litter.
Say the kitchen’s a cow’s corpse.
Say we never get to see it: bright
future, stuck like a bum star, never
coming close, never dazzling.
Say we never meet her. Never him.
Say we spend our last moments staring
at each other, hands knotted together,
clutching the dog, watching the sky burn.
Say, It doesn’t matter. Say, That would be
enough. Say you’d still want this: us alive,
right here, feeling lucky.

The Sciences Sing a Lullaby
By Albert Goldbarth

Physics says: go to sleep. Of course
you’re tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They’ll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.

Geology says: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch, America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren’t alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren’t alone. Go to sleep.

Astronomy says: the sun will rise tomorrow,
Zoology says: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle,
Psychology says: but first it has to be night, so
Biology says: the body-clocks are stopped
all over town and
History says: here are the blankets,
layer on layer, down and down.

Poetic Prescription Refills: MINDFULNESS

by Denise Levertov

When I opened the door
I found the vine leaves
speaking among themselves in abundant
                   My presence made them
hush their green breath,
embarrassed, the way
humans stand up, buttoning their jackets,
acting as if they were leaving anyway, as if
the conversation had ended
just before you arrived.
                                               I liked
the glimpse I had, though,
of their obscure
gestures. I liked the sound
of such private voices. Next time
I’ll move like cautious sunlight, open
the door by fractions, eavesdrop

Ask Me
by William Stafford

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made.  Ask me whether
what I have done is my life.  Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait.  We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
by Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ‘ranged
in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams,
to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured
with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Now You See It
by Ron Padgett

What you don’t see
helps you see what
you do see: the keyhole
sharpens the thrill
in your brain,
even if there is
no one
in the room,
wafting across
the white sheets
as a song drifts in
the window,
her voice so pure
you can see
the face it rises from,
for what you see
helps you see what
you don’t see.