A few years ago, I wrote this poem for a cherished friend. She was in the midst of getting a divorce and moving back to the small town where she was born and raised after 20 years of rooting herself to another now-familiar place. I can still remember the morning she called to tell me, through tears, that she and her husband were going their separate ways. My heart ached for the fierce lancing of her own and for the dreams curling their emptiness around her. In the months that followed, as she sifted through the remnants of her old life, attempting to hew a passage to the unknown, I tried to support her as much as I could. Though I honored her grieving and healing process, I wanted to remind her of the woman who would ultimately gain more than she had lost, who would brush back the dark to inhabit a gleaming, arable expanse. This poem was a flare cast into that future, an affirmation of her journey to freedom, even if that horizon were still blurred by heartbreak and uncertainty. Last year, on her birthday, I left her a voicemail reciting these words. She was in a much different place, her life a flow of vibrant, cascading rhythms and ever-blossoming possibility. Yet she admitted my paean to her rang as true now as it did all those years ago. For she was still, as I wrote, in other ways “on the verge of letting go and letting in, taking flight and touching down.” We all are. In the last few days, these words, framed by another dear friend and sitting on my mantel, have become balm for me, too. As I shrug off the old to inhabit a space at once enlivening and alien, unnerving and liberating, I need to lace myself to a tender trust, to keep steering toward all that has lured me from pinched comfort. “Into Space” is my reminder. Whatever change you’re embracing in this new year, whether thrust upon you or intentionally carved, I share these words as a compass and as encouragement for the days when hope is shadowed and thin.
We are all on the verge
of letting go and letting in,
taking flight and touching down,
arms laden with the fruit of some
seized truth that has parted the night sky
and scattered the stars at our feet.
So now the trembling will cease,
what confronts already a memory
of wrestling a sweet release from
the clutch of the tiger’s jaws.
Do not delay.
Allow yourself to fall
into the cavernous hollow
that awaits the shape of your life.
And listen, listen for the voice
that rises from the luted heart, where trust
plucks the strings to this song.
You have only one charge this day,
one request from the splintering dawn:
set your sails for this river of light
to the edge beyond where you dare,
where your arms know the weight of your strength
and your largeness, untethered, roams free.