You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
That was fun. You proved you could do it and you did it hard. But this next year won’t have any backyard parties or curbside fireworks or sunny road trips with a boy you could fall in love with if only he plays that Okkervil River song again. The lake hasn’t been warm for two years now and that boy who comes over in the middle of the night is free during the day. Think about it. There are two different diseases racing to kill your mother. Sit still here with me. Do you hear that? This is your life now. The cats want to be fed. Your favorite leggings have holes in them and your jeans don’t fit because you drank too much Frenet while making eyes at that boy who moved to Portland. Or maybe it was the whiskey and that other boy back from New York. They’re gone now. They were extras in the prequel to the only character test you will ever have: what would you do if the woman who raised you had one year left to live? What would you give up? This is it. Please stop humming that song because this is not a movie with a score. Feed the cats, pick up the medicine, give up the late nights. She brought you here. She woke you up. She taught you to speak. You’re smart enough to know that a life cannot be itemized. You owe her nothing but your bones which is all you have, so give them back. Show her the strength of what she made. This has nothing to do with you.