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18 Mar 2022

Alex C
Eisenberg

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Full Moon

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Apr 1st

To Know

Mar 2nd

After David Whyte’s Self Portrait and

Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s The Invitation

               It doesn't interest me what wealth you have built

               even if you have built it from nothing.

               I want to know what your heart is made of

               and if it is strong enough to weather the storms

               of living in the flesh of this world;

               if it is flexible enough to bend without snapping

               in the humility and hubris of growth;

               if you are brave enough to reach your roots deep

               into the well of grief, to drink.

               I want to know if you are willing to stretch yourself

               far out into the world with quaking limbs

               and unfurl a blossom-filled hand as an offering

               of tender beauty to share with all who pass.

               Will you let them pluck, freely, a ripened fruit

               from your delicious being?        I want to know

               if you will offer these gifts, dripping from your fingers

               in a rich display of dressing-down, and release;

               and if you are willing to do this year after year

               though it will leave you exposed, arid, empty, cold.

               I want to know if you can be warmed

               by your own kindness; if your heart is made

               of wood and blood; if you are willing to live

               by giving of yourself to earth and air and other;

               to rot, to burn, to turn with time, to change.

               It doesn’t interest me what you’ve managed to save.

               I want to know what you’ve given away.

Behind the poem...

I wrote To Know after David Whyte's poem, Self-Portrait – a work which prompted Oriah Mountain Dreamer to pen her arguably more famous poem in the same style, The Invitation. Both poems found me in a similar place in life: stripped down, grasping for the truth at the roots of things. Having memorized Whyte's poem and delved deeper into Oriah's by reading her book of the same name, I felt moved, eventually, to create my own version. Its inspiration is the journey of loss and discovery I found myself walking – and too, what was being asked of me to walk it well.