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?

A different kind of love letter*


You’re watching me
From your blanketed perch
The spot we’ve made for you
On the left side of the couch

I’m in the kitchen
The reason
Your interest is keen

But I pretend your attention
Is something like love

Something like
The way I love you
Which feels like held breath
And fills my empty spaces

Even as I know
You’re merely calculating
A piece of carrot?
A slice of cucumber, maybe?

Weighing the likelihood
Of a treat against
The comfort of the couch

There was a time
When you watched
From up close
And only
Pressed against my leg
Or with a nose in my lap

Ever optimistic
No matter how many times
I never
Shared my dinner

You’re more discerning now
Better trained perhaps
Or maybe just tired
Aware of your aching body
As I am

You see
I watch you, too

And I feel my heart ache
Each time I imagine
Your side of the couch
Without you. Watching me

© Amanda Reilly Sayer, 2019

* In honor of my dear Chapin, 13 years old today ❤️

Sunlit Path


Ripples of light
Unfolding a path
Over vast, shifting earth

Circuitous, but leading
Not the shortest line
But there

Along with that lone tree
Whispering wind-filled stories
Of survival and new branches

Look back if you must
But notice the widening arc
The trail gone past

Tales of your struggle
Are etched in your bones
You need not repeat them

Now, away from the setting sun
Step into your long shadow, embrace
And watch the tide shift

The unknown
Place of your thriving
Lies just ahead

© Amanda Reilly Sayer