No Signs of Struggle
Growing small requires enormity of will
Just sitting still in the doctor’s waiting room
Watching the future shuffle in and out
Stopped; watching it stare at you
while you try not to look. Rare is an exchange:
a smile of brief, wry recognition.
You are the new kid on the block. Everyone here
was you once. You are still learning
that growing small requires a largeness
of spirit you can’t fit into yet: acceptance of
irritating help from those who love you; a giving
way and over, but not up. You’ve swallowed
hard the contents of the “Drink Me” bottle, and felt
yourself shrink. Now, familiar furniture looms,
floors tilt, and doorknobs yield only when wrestled
round with both hands. It demands colossal patience,
all this growing small: your diminished sleep at night,
your handwriting, your voice, your height.
You are more the incredible shrinking woman
than the Buddhist mystic, serene, making do
with less. Less is not always more. Yet
in this emptying space, space glimmers,
becoming visible. Here is a place
behind the eyes of those accustomed
to what some would call diminishment.
It is a place of merciless poetry, a gift of presence
previously ignored, drowned in the daily clutter.
Here every gesture needs intention, is alive
with consciousness. Nothing is automatic.
You can spot it in the provocation of a button,
an arm poking at a sleeve, a balancing act
at a night-time curb while negotiating the dark.
Feats of such modest valor, who would suspect
them to be exercises in an intimate, fierce discipline,
a metaphysics of being relentlessly aware?
Such understated power is here, in these
tottering dancers who exert stupendous effort
on tasks most view as insignificant. Such quiet beauty
here, in these, my soft-voiced, stiff-limbed people;
such resolve masked by each placid face.
There is immensity required in growing small,
so bent on such unbending grace.
Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash