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Here is a wonderful poem I found this summer on the back page of American Poetry Review. I have been carrying it around ever since–so I can read it and remind myself of what’s important. Ellen’s most recent book of poems, The Human Line, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2007. Thank you, Ellen, for reminding us to stop and reflect.


By Ellen Bass

Bad things are going to happen.

Your tomatoes will grow a fungus

and your cat will get run over.

Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream

melting in the car and throw

your blue cashmere sweater in the drier.

Your  husband will sleep

with a girl your daughter’s age, her breasts spilling

out of her blouse. Or your wife

will remember she’s a lesbian

and leave you for hte moment next door. The other cat–

the one you never really liked–will contract a disease

that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth

every four hours, for a month.

Your parents will die.

No matter how many vitamins you take,

how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys,

your hair and your memory. If your daughter

doesn’t plug her heart

into every live socket she passes,

you’ll come home to find your son has emptied

your refrigerator, dragged it to the curb,

and called the used appliance store for a pick up–drug money.

There’s a Buddhist story of a woman chased by a tiger.

When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine

and climbs halfway down. But there’s also a tiger below.

And two mice–one white, one black–scurry out

and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point

she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice.

She looks up, down, at the mice.

Then she eats the strawberry.

So here’s the view, the breeze, the pulse

in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat,

slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel

and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely.

Oh taste how sweet and tart

the red juice is, how the tiny seeds

crunch between your teeth.

6 Responses to “relax”

  1. Aimee Erdman says:

    WOW! Thank you for sharing that poem. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Love the picture too. –aimee

  2. Patricia Teel says:

    Love this poem, Rosanne. Thanks for sharing it and the lighting techniques. I hope to get up there soon and take a class or workshop with you!

  3. Hi Amy,
    So glad you like the poem. And the photo!
    Happy New Year!

  4. So glad you like the poem! I’ll keep you informed about future workshops!

  5. ej armstrong says:

    just love this poem- plan to copy it and hang it where I’ll see it often- thanks ej

  6. Great Post!! Thank you very much!

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