Participation Nineteen Shoveling | Christine Du Bois

Participation

I do this as often as I can, 
because it’s really important, there’s an urgent need
for your type, they tell me.
It’s about giving, and although it’s not always comfortable,
and I have to wade through a shock of documents
so we’re all sure this is right,
it’s worth it.  It makes me feel useful, valuable,
a red-blooded citizen
contributing to the common good,
helping others who might not survive 
without community connections.
We all have unexpected moments of distress
when it matters—a lot—
whether some stranger already came and gave,
their arm stretched out and their 
life-giving gift, flowing,
flowing through the system to our need.
It’s really not so hard.  You have to register,
and there are personal questions to make certain
you aren’t disqualified.  
And certainly, you have to show up.
People explain the process to you.
You get your own special, private space.
There are buttons and beeps,  
and then you’ve given what you have to give,
and you leave, proudly sporting your sticker:
“I Voted Today.”
Edward Lee
We Will Face It Together (‘Other Seasons)
©2021

Nineteen

You are nineteen. You have nine lives,
but you don’t know that yet.
I am fifty-nine. I know about your other lives,
but not all of them, because some are still ahead of me.
You are nineteen, and your heart has shattered 
into utter, suffocating silence.
Rooms full of people who care about you,
but whom you strongly suspect would hand you
simplistic formulas for healing— 
maxims and recipes that would only make the searing
sear more—
these people are company, a comfort, and an overlying bandage, 
but not truly to be trusted.  
You are lashed and lonely, so lonely, 
a willow in an empty canyon, 
wondering where the water went, 
pushing back the screaming why, 
because there really isn’t any answer—
but mostly not daring to ask.
Is there any point for the willow to complain
or fuss or question
why the farmer redirected the cool, clear brook
somewhere else?
Is there any point in protesting
the subtle but unmistakable shaming
that comes from not fitting someone else’s narrative, 
from having dared to spread your timid branches
in a manner organic for you
but disruptive for them?
What could a willow do anyway?
So, your roots bend now, 
searching the emptiness, and yearning,
and you pretend. You go on.
You will have nine lives at least.
You do not know that yet.
But I know, and I see you and your hidden, arid roots
and I reach back across decades,
and I water you with nine thousand loving tears.
Miroslava Panayotava
In the Country
Digital art
©2021

Shoveling

Shoveling sorrow
is like shoveling snow:
you have to be strategic.
Don’t waste strength
trying to make it all look tidy.
Life’s mutts and muddy boots
will surely ruin that work.
Instead, shift your
sorrow snow just enough
so it won’t trap you.

You have to think about
how to bend to pick it up
and where you’ll put it, for
it’s wet and heavy 
and exhausting.
And after the crusty glitter--
the glamour of feeling--
has fled, 
you needn’t pretend
that it’s pretty.

You have to be careful
towards yourself, 
not to slip on ice so slick 
with melting
that you’re mashed
against your own story.
Mind all melting.
And wear mittens,
because even powder softness
can block
your blood supply.

You have to be careful
towards yourself.
Every year
people die of heart attacks
while shoveling snow
or sorrow.
Miroslava Panayotava
Winter
oil
©2021

Poetry ©2021 Christine Du Bois
All rights reserved

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