Know Well The Growing Edge - Poem by Maya Stein
(after Howard Thurman, "For the Inward Journey')
Know well the growing edge, the pregnant pause that intimates release. Know well the way the wind will beat you back and threaten the alignment of your bones and fling sand into the treads of your tires. Know well the crowded room, the waning light, defeat like a siren song, the wall of trophy failures taunting. Know well the slipshod latticework your life is resting on, the filmy, brief oases saving you from draught. Know well the sound of rain destroying your roof, the weight of old ice against a porch screen, the brass incongruity of a misblown trumpet, the deep horror of new love gone unanswered. Know well the broken keepsake, and the fallen arch, the army and retreat, the bud and the unbirthed bloom. Know well the accidental bull's-eye, the bull in the china shop, the bullshit and the bulldog and the bullhorn. Know well the growing edge, the fireflies along the dark woods path, the burnt steak, the forgotten birthday, the unseen talent, the missed opportunity. Know well the singer from the song, the magician from his sleight of hand, the sower of seeds from the seeds he sows. Know well the betrayals of the body and the miracle of its daily resurrection. Know the butter knife and the honey spoon and the lemon slice and the soft towel after a hard-earned bath. Know well the core. Know well the game. Know well the loser and the loss. Know well the last sip and the vacant wash of regret. Know well the minutest textures of love, the circumference of a dropp of sweat, the weight of want, the underpinnings of a moan. Know well how it begins and how it ends, where it matters and where you couldn't care less. Know well the porthole of the no and the long, wide acreage of yes. Know well the distraction, the dilemma, the dissonance, the unseemly, unavoidable error. Know well the tollbooth and the teenager in the car behind. Know well the amulet, the augury, the prayer that saves you. Know well the unsanctioned curfew, the over-eager groping in the backseat, the stolen cigarette. Know well the sound of grief in the middle of the night, and the healing on a lost highway. Know well the belly laugh after a terrible mistake, the fumble after surety, the sweet relief after the argument, the touch, the touch, the touch after the still, interminable winter. Know well the faith required, the cliff, the dive, the distance. Know well the fork in the road and the final countdown and the trouble rippling through paradise. Know well the arc between "if" and "when" and the balance beam between here and there. Know well the now. Know well the breath. Know well the sound of knuckles on a shut door. Know well the first step in. Know well the unsung necessity of terror. Know well the tiniest courage. Know well what happens next, which is only the mystery whispering its story, syllable by patient syllable.
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