There are some regrets that are harder than others to relinquish: words spoken that skewered rather than understood or supported; an opportunity passed by because the risk seemed too great; a love so encompassing that its end was experienced as a shadow on the heart long after it was gone. It can take years to allow regret its due, to let it deepen and mellow until its usefulness is finished. To hold on one minute more can bring a poisonous pain that accompanies us into the present and cripples our futures.
One day I was feeling the weight of one such regret when I took a walk in a place of lively beauty. There, among the waterfowl and flowers and quiet paths I met myself and found a way out. Freedom comes in surprising ways. And so I offer this poem about that experience.
On this trail that curls around
the misted gardens
I meet the imperial geese,
their goslings a dirty gold with
heads up, fit for
anything that comes.
The sun catches the pond afire
and ribbons of light
close around reeds and cattails.
Water slips over rocks and mossy hillocks
as though tears of joy,
luminescent with kindness.
Everywhere I find those who long
to live inside such beauty,
hands made tender by fallen camellia blossoms,
white and purple-throated rhododendrons,
each human voice hushed
by the swoop and flutter of wings rising.
We are silenced by
It is then I rediscover
can be held in my palm— this blackness of earth, orb of stone—
and that regret can be cast off
like a frail, criss-crossed skin
no longer needed.