Listen to me read the poem here
I stood at home and wept.
I wept at the sight of hostas and Queen Anne’s lace
and petunias and lambs’ ears
while I was in the desert.
I wept in gratitude for rain I did not see or hear
or feel on my skin
when it watered my gardens
in my absence.
I wept with shame that my garden can thrive in neglect
and yield tomatoes that I do not earn and flowers
that bud and blossom to my surprise.
I wept out of loneliness
in my empty house while my family traveled without me
jealous of those returning to homes
filled with family and animals while
my welcome was an overgrown garden
and a swarm of houseflies.
I wept for the intimacy of the journey
that we will not experience or
articulate in the same way again.
I wept for the young people who traveled with me.
I wept in awe of their strength and resolve and beauty.
I wept out of longing to remain with them through
graduations and grief, weddings and wounds.
I wept with trepidation that I have set them on a path
from which there is no turning back
no turning back.
I wept for the activists we met and the thousands they represent.
the dead and dying in the desert
the detained and deported
those who spend their retirement keeping strangers alive
despite a broken, soul-sucking system
the women who fled punches at home to be
beaten in detention and who use aching and beautiful hands
to form pupusas for dinner and write to a stranger in jail
and block the doors of the courthouse in protest.
I wept with rage at militia men and women
who hunt humans for sport
and call it allegiance to the
GOD FORSAKEN flag of the
STATES OF AMERICA!
I wept remembering the cholla and the saguaro and the prickly pear that
maim and lacerate
in their struggle to survive.
I wept, admitting I am soft and weak and
intimidated by a cactus’s
desperate will to exist.
I cannot see its beauty.
I wept for our species,
vicious in our will to survive.
I fear that toughness
I fear the hostility
I fear the violence.
I wept because I cannot change the world
because I will never fix a damned thing
because I must act and it must be enough
to carry me and these beloved forward
believing our doomed lives have meaning.
I wept at the thought that my children may
inherit little more
than a countdown
to our own extinction.
I wept because it is my job to prepare
them for a future I fear.
I wept that I cannot
give them a will to survive.
What I have to give is the will
to remain insistently, sacredly human
to call forth the humanity in others
to see the beauty of every being fighting to survive.
I wept because when the human race ends
I fear it will not be beautiful
The worst and not our best.
I hear that the desert is beautiful.
I cannot see its beauty.
And I cannot spend all day weeping
so I hold my children and my husband
and I tell my friend she is precious
and my colleague he is a gift
and my youth they are an inspiration
And I share my tomatoes in exchange for Jeremy’s beans
And I join the NAACP and listen
And I attend a union negotiation and listen
And I sit on the porch when it rains and listen
And I drive Mindi to the doctor
And I watch Gracie’s children so she can survive
And I write.
I listen and I write
I breathe and I weep
And when my voice is needed