An Early Morning Conversation about Mars

I can see Mars from my kitchen window
Which sounds like it could be a metaphor, and probably is
Except, I mean I can literally see Mars
That red skinned beacon
Out there. The speck that reminds me how small I am
And also of how impossible things might be known
First from a great distance. Then close up.
But how do we get there from here? That is the question
That keeps me up at night
 
And while I’m awake, even half-asleep
I figure, I might as well keep looking
Because we never get there by not looking
Over and out there, but also
In here. And if we don’t want to go
Someplace we’ve never been
It might be important to know why not
To understand whether we are afraid of green men
Remnants of a cartoon we once saw
Or something else
 
Isn’t it funny how we give meaning to color
Red states, blue states, people and planets
As if we are still children learning to sort a giant crayon box
Trying to make something so big
Fit into our small hands
 
We know so little for certain except that
The universe is bigger than any one of us
And we are hurtling through space at a speed we can’t match
Mightn't it be prudent then
To keep our options open
To keep our hearts opener still
To open up the too small box and smash the cardboard with our grown up feet?
 
Maybe then, we’d be able to see
What the container has keep from our view
That we’ve made a very poor bargain for certainty
And also. Maybe Mars
With the friendly green "men"
Is closer than we think

© Amanda Reilly Sayer, 2020

Hold Your Flame High

The challenge now is to hold your flame high
Without seeking to burn others
It’s tempting, I know, to singe another on the way by
Especially when you’ve clawed your way out of darkness
And they have blocked your passage
When you have been burned
Near past the point of recognition

You did not deserve that
You did not ever deserve that
But you are not the only one with scars
And you must find within you the strength
To be better than those who’ve hurt you
Because you can and you are
Not when you are set alight with vengeance
But when you light the way for everyone

If you want a new story
You must allow for a new ending.
In every hero’s journey ever told,
There comes a time to re-know the enemy
Because the enemy is who you become
When you don’t use your light well
When you can’t honor your history
Without making it a weapon

Know your anger and guard your wounds
But do not succumb to hatred or bitterness
Nor direct your rage inward
No one is asking you to offer yourself as firewood

And understand this:
The way forward is now
There is an opening now
The darkness is lit with love

© Amanda Reilly Sayer (November, 2020)

More living, less dying

Chapin, age 13.5

In the hiatus of favored things
Pain evident in your gait and change of habits
We feared the worst, prepared for the end 

Until suddenly, again, you trotted along the beach
Delighted in old crab shells and seaweed
Then later begged to climb into bed with us,
   Something you’d not done for months
And earlier, chewed on a long discarded bone
Nestled between forgotten toys
Remnants of your younger days

These things seem small, maybe 
But I know they are the sum of everything
Evidence of more living, less dying

And so it is, for all of us
Times of grace, even joy
Smiling into salty waves and leaning into the day
   while knowing. That final day will come

© Amanda Reilly Sayer, 2019

If you liked this, you might enjoy an earlier poem about Chapin here.

The Challenge of Being

Untitled, 5×7 acrylic on canvas

Sometimes the notes
Play, almost  
Without effort, other times 

Fingers sore from repetition
Dissonance rules
With gnashing teeth

The Buddha said (maybe)
You must become empty, before
Being filled

And that is harder than it sounds
In this time when, doing more
Means doing well

But what if being well
Means simply being?
Allowing, the melody to emerge

©Amanda Reilly Sayer, 2019

*Note: I shared this particular painting with this poem because it was a painting that evolved easily, which isn’t exactly typical of my experience. As a painter (and writer), I am guilty of teeth gnashing effort and that is usually evident in the work, at least to me. To have a goal that is about not trying seems both counterintuitive and impossible, but I know this is a goal worth allowing, if not pursuing.

What say you?