Seek and Ye…
“Where there is no love,
put love – and you will find love”
–St. John of the Cross
But where it is – this promise of
reap-after-sow, get-after-give, find-after-look,
cheek-after-turn, rise-after-down, live-after-
not-happily-where it is
slipped in or slashed open
or stomped on or Where it is?
Elusive as air, as omniscience, as prayer
trip-tripping these clay feet
indefinitely; one glance of your askance
gaze, and the un comes clattering off
conditional just when I begin
hope-against-hope to believe
I can see.
I have learned to slice an orange in crescents. One morning, after a couple of hours to trying to write, I walked downstairs, exhausted and starving, saw the oranges I’d placed in a silver bowl earlier, and decided I would eat two.
Their skin is thin, and they are juicy and sweet with flavor, and so my normal method to peel them by hand resulted in more pulpy juice than snack.
Jesse was also on a break, standing at the stove, waiting for water to boil for tea and using a knife to slice an orange for himself.
“Can you show me?” I asked him.
He lifted an orange from the bowl and set it on the wooden cutting board. “Start by cutting off the ends,” he said.
“I want two,” I told him, picking up another orange.
It’s a simple series of slices, and their color popped against the white plate I set them on. The day was warm, so I took my snack outside to eat it.
We have a new family living next door. They are fresh out of college, with a dog, and every morning their dog comes over to play with our dog, Corby. Sometimes they come inside our house. I will come downstairs to fill my coffee mug, and two dogs are in my living room. I am more confused about the fact that seeing them makes me happy without feeling afraid of them than I am figuring out how to coax them out of the house.
Hadley’s become friends with the woman, someone who can’t be ten years older than she is. I often watch the two of them chat and think about the length of time between 4 and 14, 14 and 24.
Lately Hadley and I have been taking walks with Corby. We walk around the neighborhood and sometimes to the library to pick up books we’ve checked out. Hadley talks to me about cars she hopes to drive. “A BMW,” she says. “It’s not for me, it’s for the family,” she says. “Of which I am a member,” she says.
She asks me about my Uncle Bill and my Aunt Lucy, who are no longer alive, but she brings them up often. She wants to know their history. She wants to know their love story.
I tell her I think they met when they were 12. I tell her Bill had his own business, and one evening around the dinner table he showed us a logo he’d designed for it. Lucy made me a purple puffer vest with a rainbow patch and purple bows instead of buttons.
Sometimes Hadley listens and says nothing. Sometimes she talks about cars or soccer. Sometimes she’ll ask a follow-up question while Corby trots between us, sniffing this brand new world she’s figuring out how to be a part of.
The morning when I sliced the oranges and took them outside to eat, a little girl was outside practicing handstands. She is also a new neighbor two houses down, and she looked to be about 6 or 7 years old. She was wearing a pink leotard and yellow shorts, and her hair was in a wispy bun.
I ate my orange slices and thought about my writing and about handstands. When I was a girl, after dinner on summer evenings I would practice those and cartwheels and wait for the ice cream truck to arrive, the quarters falling from my shorts pockets when I was upside down, the concrete on my hands still hot from the sun.
This piece was inspired by Marjorie Maddox’s poem “Seek and Ye….” from her book True, False, None of the Above, published by Cascade Books. In it, she wonders where in the world love is, and admits that at times love does not come from an action (such as seeking). Here, I tried to pay attention to what is left, what is around, and what is still lovely, in 2021.
Thank you to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s one from Kim Knowle-Zeller we enjoyed:
Perhaps, she thought, I should go for a walk
into the woods, or the fields, or along the riverbank
lacking for nothing
grounded by the earth
remembering what it is to breathe deeply
imagining others who walked the same path
making a way where there once was none
a single step, one after another
grace upon grace
eventually arriving home again, but with new eyes to see.
Browse more poetry prompts
If you have ever been in 8th grade, fallen in love, had a best friend, or loved reading, you will love this book. As the mother of an 8th grader, my other genuine hope is that my son will one day have a teacher as gifted as Callie.