Ginnie Goulet Gavrin
O thank you, prayer on the lips
the yes of possibility
if not belief. Faith a question
that is never answered
sequentially. More like an equation
the digits after the decimal
going out into infinity
that place I almost went
my ears receiving the sound
woven of spoken diagnosis
A crack and then a hush
the tree that falls in the forest
Both sound and silence full
of the same meaning. Stage 4
Which is to say, You are now
riding on the River Styx
Count the days
left. Open the door
on infinity and shout
into the wilderness of stars
we call heaven. Wondering
how the part of you that is
vital could so easily give up
against your will. You, sensing
river water chill, the air turning
damp, a wheeze entering the lungs
And the mystery of who
will hold your place in infinity
The answer is no one
The way time receives the treasure
of your heart and thoughts
like salt dissolved in water
a presence and a dissolution
To the universe you are soluble
So when life opens back up
and you are returned
the god you prayed to
must be pleased
As they would be pleased
to receive you
formless into the sweep
of space where love
lives in a silence
from where you’ve always been.
After Loss, the Kindness of Grief
A walk into the back field—sea of sun,
inlet of grass. Into the scent of dirt and rotting apples
fallen from a great height to land, bruised,
beneath the nibble of a deer’s front teeth,
soft velvety lips. Color, ripe in all directions.
Sound pitched high, the voices of children
breathless in a run. Squish of wet boots,
mud seeping in a slosh. I will take it
all in. Hold on to none of it
as if that dog’s bark in the distance
is not a pull on my attention, but rather
a notice of suffering that never
belonged to me. Even though
I make the same sound
whenever I am lost
at the end of a very long chain.
To My Son: A Letter from Provincetown
This is what I mean by impermanence:
Your grandfather became a man
who wavered down fluorescent-lit
corridors, smiling, introducing
himself as The Plywood Tycoon.
He shook hands with every stranger,
seeing you, asked your name.
This morning unfolded like this:
I thought of you as I wandered
by the postcard store
on the way back
from the Portuguese Bakery
we never found.
On every corner, roses flared,
blooming with an abundance
that wounded me.
Any day could happen like this:
You could be in a town by the sea,
staring in a dawn-lit shop window
full of trinkets, nostalgia, postcards
that trip a soft tangle of breathlessness
you didn't know you had.
You could be left standing,
suddenly heartbroken, in front
of that shiny pink ceramic clock
or maybe that scalloped fake
rhinestone brooch, or even
those peach-colored roses.
Standing, as though so much
has been lost. Only trinkets
surviving unbroken. Rewarded
now for their patience
that has endured
what our bodies could not.
Prime Functions, After Chemotherapy
Sacred geometry of the straight line
how it divides everything
into a simple binary.
Here and gone.
Each day I take my measure.
of percentages, rates
Are numbers a friend
or an enemy? Transmutable
into reassurance as comforting
as a cup of tea. Warm sips
taken in the morning
when birdsong is insistent,
a cardinal’s color on still air
as if breaking the silence
of darkness is the point
and everything else is just statistics.
Stay on the side where morning
is a fixed way station.
Each date named by a number.
June 15 has been saved for brides,
for blue lupines and purple iris.
By September they will be gone,
long forgotten as maroon mums
claim shorter days. As children
shout and scramble
toward yellow busses
emerging from cool morning mist.
Ginnie Goulet Gavrin
In this last year I have recovered from a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis. During that time I drew on my thirty years of Buddhist meditation practice to lead me through treatment and into recovery. The Buddhist teaching on compassion helped me stay open to the present moment whether I was up or down. I begin my day in the dark, entering a meditation as I come fully awake. By dawn I am downstairs, lighting a candle for anyone I know who is facing challenging times. As an insomniac, I often head out the door past midnight to take in the small field and woods behind my house. Starlight, snowfall, fireflies, fox cry—the air empty and full of miracles.
Ginnie Goulet Gavrin worked as a massage therapist for over thirty years. Currently she teaches meditation and writing workshops at the Monadnock Mindfulness Practice Center in Keene, New Hampshire. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Stonecoast MFA program in Creative Writing. Her writing has appeared in The Literary Review, The Worcester Review, THEMA, Primavera, Slipstream, The Greensboro Review, and the anthology, Essential Love: Poems About Mother and Fathers, Daughters and Son. She is currently at work on a novel titled, Don’t Go Back to Sleep, which explores re-entering mundane life after a mystical experience that takes place at the brink of death.
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