all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein

all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein
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Friday, January 18, 2008

how to start over

resist the temptation to wipe the slate clean entirely.
you cannot do this.
you are where you are.
but you can dust. you can mop. you can cleanse your belly
of all the heavy cheeses you ate at last month's holiday parties.
you can initiate the day with decaf.
you can rake four batches of leaves from the lawn.
you can sing, loudly, in the car to no one
but the man on the radio who is singing with you.
you can decide that the apple pie you are craving
will not come from your hands, your oven, your kitchen,
but from the bakery aisle at your neighborhood grocery.

ignore the titles from the self-help shelves and glossy
women's magazines, with their sound bytes of colorful insight.
you do not need a makeover, a diet, a religious conversion.
you do not need to get more in touch with your feelings.
you do not need potassium, or St. John's Wort, or a colonic.
you need a walk, communion with shore birds, a rainstorm,
a glass of wine in front of a fire, lip gloss, a whole evening
of the novel you read only incrementally, at night, before bed.

ignore the calendar, the clock, the larger itineraries
ticking their niggling bits of time.
you will sleep when you need to.
you will know when it is time for water, for a shower,
for a phone call, for a kiss, for solitude, for Indian food,
whatever nourishment you need for your throat, your ears,
the palms of your hands, the hunger just under your skin.

imagine, despite your unbearable faults and fissures,
you are still a thing of beauty, a rare creature, a snowflake,
a singular, spectacular atom circumnavigating the tangled astronomy
of your life the only way you know how.


Anonymous said...

Oh Maya, this is my favorite. I love it. I needed to find this tonight. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Oh! This gave me goosebumps of the best kind. Stanza/Paragraph 4 is especially poignant and simply beautiful. I feel the foggy/thick pressure to "reinvent" myself and "cleanse" myself for the new year, wash away as though I'm walking through a spring rainstorm. Grateful thanks for your healing words! Namaste, DragonGirl

Di Mackey said...

I love this.

Anonymous said...

You did it again Maya...rattled me out of my cage that was feeling all guilty for already not going to the gym enough and still eating left over Christmas candy... I hear you and once again grew in wisdom from your insightful writing... Happy New Year ... Dianne J.

chocolate covered musings said...

this really sums up how i feel right now. so amazing. you have a wonderful way with words

Wenda said...

Thanks -- again -- Maya, for putting all of this into words the way you do.

GailNHB said...

I really like verse 3 of this piece. There is so much truth to this notion of ignoring what the world demands and listening to our bodies. Sleep. Shower. Eat. Drink.
Read. Write. Love. Take care of ourselves as we know we ought to. Excellently written. Thank you.

gwinn said...

Your words never fail to move me.

GoGo said...

I love this. I would love to get permission to repost on my site and link folks to your page. Just let me know if its cool.


ReachDabbleShine said...

Holy crap.

You rock.

Jody Reale said...


Anonymous said...

I gave a coworker a copy of this post with her birthday gift (in her card). During her birthday luncheon that day, I saw her open the card and read the poem several times.

Thank you for your words. (And I appreciate your photos, too.)

Jesse said...

hi maya. i googled you! and look what i found! i'm poetry-illiterate, but this one's poke back at all the "shoulds of perfection" moved me. thank you!

Norene said...

what a spectacular piece, maya.

what to even home in on? can i quote you back the whole poem?

Cest Moi said...

Hey Maya,
I found your post as i was googling the words how to start over,i dont want to bitch and bicker and say how my life fell apart and i woke up literally to find myelf alone,and i knew that the time has come for me to start over, and then i found your post,and you are absolutely right,i dont need a makeover or a relgious conversion or any of the stupid books with shiny covers,your words inspired me,and trust me i have been looking for inspration for a very long time.
I envy you at some level,you have the gift of writing and expressing yourself and touching other people's lives,i used to write,along time back Maya,almost like in a previous life,i used to write poems and short stories,and i loved it,i didnt write for fame or fortune,i wrote for myself,and i used to love it,but then my life starting to crash,many thinsg changed,including me,i cant write,i wish i could write.
Sorry for rambling,i just wanted to say thank you

Anonymous said...

Maya, I googled "starting over" and found your writing. Thanks for re-inspiring me. You and I have a lot in common: Taurus, comms, year of the Rat, the City. I like good omens and I needed to find your poem.

I have moved away from those things i love and it's time to move back...

thx again

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, we can say the right thing to someone and we don't even know it is exactly what that person needed at that exact moment. Thank you stranger.

Anonymous said...

This is so true and how I feel. I need time to heal, to rest to get well again. I'm tired of being bullied do this do that try this buy a new pair jeans, dye your hair just shut the heck up and let me heal.

Jackie K. said...

wonderful, wonderful, wonderful....