me in a nutshell

May 31, 2007  |  poetry

Related to the Life/Lines post, though not quite the same thing, I’d like to offer up my poem Me in a Nutshell which was an “I believe” poem. It uses many, many quotes from various sources, mantras of mine, inspiration, quotes (it ends with a different Mary Oliver line, in fact).

 It was published online at This I Believe through NPR.

Me in a Nutshell

I believe love is the closest we get to divinity
I believe in waiting patiently on the corner for the light to change
I believe in being kind

I believe that as birds fly, and fish swim, humans create;
it is our ‘natural’ mode of operation
I believe the opposite of war is not peace, it’s creation
I believe creative expression is a way to get to know
what we don’t know
that we already know

I believe in finding common ground and elevating the discussion
in wanting what I have and giving what I need
I believe in asking myself how it is that I will come alive
because that is what the world needs

I believe in keeping rocks in my pockets
to remind me to stay close to the ground
I believe stones and aerial maps of the ocean floor
teach me to fly
I believe to be free is not merely to cast off one’s shackles
but to live in a way
that respects
and enhances
the freedom of others

I believe in leaving everything and everyone and everywhere
just a little better off then when I found it
I believe when we let go of who we are, we become who we might be
I believe in paying my library fees

I believe in psychics, astrology, epigraphs
crossing fingers at cemeteries
lifting feet when going over a bridge
ice cream on the hot days
I believe in swimming at the glacier in the summer
and chomping icebergs like snow-cones

I believe asking for – and getting – someone’s consent is sexy
and knowing the pleasure you want and how to get it
is subversive and revolutionary
I believe gender and power and play is what makes the sex hot

I believe stretch marks and scars are beautiful
because they tell the history of the body
I believe the body is a temple to be worshipped
that we are not separate than the earth, but rather from the earth
I believe it feels good to shit outside

I believe in cranberries, avocados and cashews
in redheads and black ink
in leaving a trail on an unmarked canvas
in drawings on skin
in tiny yellow flowers under the chin to check if I like butter

I believe in watching the media, pop culture, consumerism,
and celebreality with a critical eye
I believe in turning off the TV
I believe in accessories: shoes, belts, bags, scarves, glasses

I believe growth requires the temporary suspension of security
in second chances and red balloons
I believe in wishing on the full moon and faery rings
and dandelions gone to seed and eyelashes
and shooting stars and lovers’ laughter and birthday candles

I believe very few people are actually out to get us
but are rather just distracted by their own
human-drama-bubble of daily life
I believe differences are the only way we learn
I believe intentions do matter
I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt
but still protecting the gentle red ribbed cage
around my heart

I believe you and I are not mistakes, we are stardust

I believe in unfolding my own mythology
like an origami swan
asking every day:
what will I do with my one wild and precious life?

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3 Comments


  1. First, I really like what you have to say about the Oliver poem, and yes, those absolutely arresting lines of hers.

    And then your own poem (and it pleases me that it had its life, too, on the NPR site), that builds and builds so strongly on the refrain; it’s a genuine litany, a prayer, and a blessing.

  2. “I believe in unfolding my own mythology
    like an origami swan
    asking every day:
    what will I do with my one wild and precious life?”

    Beautiful!!!!

  3. This is so beautiful, thank you for writing it. I think we’re probably stardust, too.

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