I learned an ancient word today.
Such a beautiful, sad word:
There are those who, in their quest for reality,
See only the wound, but not the healing skin beneath.
They immerse in the infinite misery that besets us
and cannot open ears or eyes to the speckled joys that also share our world.
The seek-sorrow frowns at delights
and bids you furrow also.
I know those who are so.
Perhaps you do, too.
But may we not be beckoned
by the small, clear, Autumn sky
and the tide of leaves rushing towards us
and the mourning dove’s strange, creaky-winged flight?
Are such glories to be ignored
so that we may not distract from suffering?
Perhaps there is room enough for both
in our unbounded consciousness
For, in truth, the sorrows need no seeking
and neither do the joys.
An Undiluted Joy
What would it be like, do you think,
to experience the world as it truly is?
Not constrained by our ruminative fears
nor sliced through with intruded memories
or the droop of sentiment.
These fictions can fade
in an instant.
At times, the unembellished will reveal itself:
a sudden vista, causing us to gasp.
A sharp bird call, startling through the silence.
These bolts halt us; free us,
if only for a second.
We cannot lengthen those moments
just as we cannot extend the next sound we hear.
But we can open ourselves to their invitation
and allow ourselves the undiluted joy
when it comes.
How good it would be
to part with those taut thoughts
of deeds mistaken and words unsaid.
Of the ungenerosity of long-held beliefs
that stiffen our muscles and lock our bones,
that shutter our lips and brittle our brows.
A nightmare in shining armour.
But what we have is not an exoskeleton.
Rather, a surface of undulations
and textures born of yield and caress.
Let us be deciduous.
Let us release what does not serve us
and make space for new growth.
Olivia Hajioff, a Fulbright scholar, has published poetry in The Road Not Taken, The Lyric, Jersey Devil Press, Ginosko Literary Journal, Better Than Starbucks, Light, Penumbra, philosopher William B. Irvine’s Stoic website, and the Front Porch Review, among others. She is the 2020 Grand Choice Winner of the Laura Riding Jackson Poetry Competition. Olivia was also guest poet at the Hylton Center for Performing Arts at George Mason University. At age nine, her short story was presented as a children’s ballet on the British television show: ‘Free Time’. Professionally, Olivia is a concert violinist and member of the Marcolivia Duo.
Image: Michal Klajban, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons