Zero Tolerance


Some people will punish you
while others put you on a pedestal.
You will find the home and the love
you always dreamed of,
the two being one.
You will rage in a meadow
with unfazed crickets for witnesses.
You will answer the call of “Mama”
one hundred times in five minutes,
heat up leftovers,
stare at the half-read bestsellers
on the nightstand, at turns inspired
and shaking your fist at giving a shit.
You will practice and practice
and you will give up practicing,
no longer able to tolerate talk
of spiritual journeys
when the real work is right here
in your kitchen sink,
the clean, folded clothes they’ll outgrow
by summer’s end,
the teachers’ notes and writing portfolios
brought home with pride.
You will work forty hours a week,
providing health insurance
for yourself and your children,
pour your heart out then sleep it off.
You will come together and fall apart,
knowing without a doubt
that once certain seams have come open
there’s no stuffing the stuffing back in
and nary a needle or thread to be found.
Your tolerance for negotiating
with the past will diminish
and your appreciation for hard work
and birdsong and the new neighbor
who brought the jam jar of pansies
will grow exponentially.
You will be laid bare
because bare is brushing your teeth
and calling it a day,
hugs and kisses requiring no explanation,
weary of all the sharing
even as you share.
You will come to understand that life
is the only giveaway that matters
and you win
every time you remember
that this too shall pass,
that you will get through it and past it
and over it and under it,
come to a slower pace
to the place in the garden
where the rusty goddess
beckons you back,
where you pour yourself a glass of cold water,
splash some on your blotchy face
and let it all come to a simmer.
The air will teem with particles in the light,
counterpart to that darkness
we’re always making collective love to
in the name of loving what is,
the outside world in perfect balance
with or without your battle cry
against entitlement,
years of resentment distilled down
to so much ego and nonsense.
The fight will drain out of you
as evening comes,
and you’ll sit down on a folding chair,
folding your hands but not in prayer,
showing your cards
and bowing out of any game
that would deign to pin down
an ordinary woman
living a fully ordinary life
in the name of anything better.

4 thoughts on “Zero Tolerance

  1. krista says:

    Punishing? Who’s punishing? Give me their number, I’ll give ’em hell. You are ordinarily unordinary and unordinarily ordinary and that’s no pedestal. That’s the god’s-honest kitchen-sink-scrubbing holy-mother-of-crickets-singing spiritual path. love.


  2. Pamela says:

    You always write what is already scribbled on the inside of my heart, but I don’t know it’s there until I read your poetry. The counterpoint of light, the simmer, the calls for Mama. This is amazing.



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