When Anne Sexton wrote,
“Everyone in me is a bird
I am beating all my wings”
She was writing for you.
When Nelson Mandela wrote,
“Do not judge me by my successes,
judge me by how many times I fell down
and got back up again”
He was writing for you.
When Amelia Earhart flew
across the Atlantic Ocean
alone, she was charting your course.
When Lucille Clifton celebrated
herself with these words:
“these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.”
She was celebrating you.
When David Whyte called despair
“a necessary and seasonal state of repair,
a temporary healing absence,”
he had you in mind.
I spoke with these poets,
these pioneers, these people of doubt
and faith, or darkness and light,
those who did not shy away
from the heart of the world
but flung themselves into what Pico Iyer
calls “the wonderful abyss.”
They called me in at 4:00am,
just in time for your question
from the other side of the world:
“Why am I here?”
To burn off anything extra,
becoming so fully human that every
feeling is welcome in your guest house.
To take down and build up.
To grieve and to sing.
To feel, and feel, and feel,
until all of the layers have been loved.
Stanley Kunitz and Rumi
joined us, and soon the room
was so full of friends and poets,
dancers and makers of things,
and those who crave a moment,
just one single moment, of pure
connection, someone to look at their eyes
with true love. Your voice rises,
still it rises — Maya Angelou, too —
and says, “I see you. I am here to see.”
Seeing can be painful work.
And miraculous, too.
You are the one who lets go.
And you are the holder, too,
infinitely and forever held
by the arms of the world.