Put Your Own House in Order

Not because you’re going to die tomorrow
(although who knows) or because the downing
Osage orange leaf is throwing hedge balls
at your windshield in the bolt of a breeze.
Certainly not because God is coming,
and boy, is she pissed, exhausted, distraught.

No, God is already here, along with the packrats
making a living room in your unused kayak
because you’ve been too busy to float, row, and haul.
Also here: black-capped chickadees duking it out
somewhere over the rainbow, roof and roots.

Get it in order because it’s a flambouyant mess
of broken chairs and radios (remember those?)
you never fixed despite earnest intentions.
Because ruminating on little lines someone said
or erased in brisk conversation doesn’t mean shit
and needs to go out with the recyclables,
silk shirt you never liked, and swept-up dog hair.

Look, I’ll say it this way: while everything is
a recyclable, there is no house and never was,
but for the sake of being human you need to clear
the high shelves above the sink, the bottom corner
of the closet where clothes that never loved you
dream of escape, even the lost pens in the couch.

You need to walk out to the backyard unfettered
where the husks of milkweed are releasing
—right now—cottony seed too light to fly
that flies anyway.

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About the Author

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of 24 books, including How Time Moves: New & Selected Poems; Miriam's Well, a novel; Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community, and Coming Home to the Body. Founder of Transformative Language Arts, she leads writing workshops widely, coaches people on writing and right livelihood, and consults on creativity.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
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