all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein

all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein
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Monday, March 15, 2010

the luxury of failure




















After the cake had fallen.
After the vase shattered and the vacuum had died.
After she had miscalculated how much water
even the cactus needed. After a poem
had slipped through her fingers.
After she had broken someone’s heart.
After the taxman had taken her savings and the rain
had wiped out the garden. After the apology
didn’t come. After no one noticed her new dress.
After her body became a series of disappointments.
After she had run out of ways to save him and the cord
of her bedside lamp had frayed beyond repair.
After the bolts of the garage door had buckled
under the weight. After she had buried her wild anger.
After the doctors had reached an impasse.
After the weather showed no signs of improvement.
After the coffee failed to revive and the stranger
did not rescue her from loneliness. After desire
had not met with fulfillment. After the moon had
winked out and the sky became a wail of question marks.
After the detour had ended in a mud puddle.
After the horse would not come to feed at her hands.
After the baby refused to be held. After the tear
in her shirt had widened irreparably and the muscle for patience
had exhausted itself. After she could hold her breath
no longer. After winter had pummeled her with frost.
After the hill proved too much for her bicycle.
After the front door swelled and stuck and the window
was a cemetery of moths. After the wind
swallowed her whole. After love was a carpet
of potholes. After even escape eluded her.
After she could not bear another almost.

She did not despair but instead
welcomed the luxury of failure,
the velvet of it warming her skin,
how easy it was to slide into its open arms,
and nestle against its breast.
She thought it would take everything she knew
to fling her weight against it, shoulder it
from her path, sandbag the corners of her house
to keep it from leaking in and drowning the furniture.
She imagined its animal clutch at her throat,
the feral mewling in her ear, the cadaver scent
of it putrefying the air. She had pictured
its hulking footsteps presaging an earthquake ruin
for what she had worked so hard to keep whole.
She had armed herself against the possible wreckage,
kept the medicine cabinet replete with bandages,
left a surreptitious trail of breadcrumbs behind her.

But no.
It turned out failure
was a tiny slip of a thing,
a drop of water that could topple
an army,
a clear-eyed note slicing a thousand cacophonies,
a single seed offering this magnificent invitation:
Again.
Begin again.

13 comments:

Di said...

Beautiful. I noted the final words down in my journal, loving them.

Dianne J. said...

I just read a book about failure, to give me comfort from a failed relationship, and then this poem. Maya, I love your work but this one spoke to the heart of me. It is a seed offering, a gift, if only we could realize that in the pain of it all. Thanks again for helping me realize none of us are truly alone. Dianne J.

Andrea said...

Begin again. That's the beauty and the gift. Thank you!

Andrea said...

Begin again. That IS the beauty in the pain. Thank you!

Dale said...

:-) I love the deft humor of this, which outshines all the ostensible resignation of it.

GoGo said...

uh huh. :)

I appreciate how you navigate the emotion in that moment of surrender. I felt the slice in the line "a clear-eyed note slicing a thousand cacophonies".

nice.

~gg

Pithy said...

Maya,

I commission a poem from you. It should be about 'thankful'--about what it feels like to encounter yourself in snapshot moments--brief but undeniable--in poetry, in sand-between-toes, in tears so perfect they make you cry...About the reassured welcome each time I visit your page and remember why I begin again. You would say it so much better than I...

Judi said...

Dear Maya,
It has been a while since I have gone online and visited your site. However tonight I took the time to look and was rewarded by your amazing talent. Your words move me to tears and you are able to express my own feelings in a way I never could.
Thank you for this beautiful poem. You are a truly wonderful writer.
Just this afternoon, exausted after my own set of issues, and after taking some time walking and sitting in the sun at a local park, I was thinking many of the same thoughts and wrote a note to myself; "I begin again".
I guess that is life. Each day. Each moment. We must begin again.

Judi said...

Dear Maya,
It has been a while since I have gone online and visited your site. However tonight I took the time to look and was rewarded by your amazing talent. Your words move me to tears and you are able to express my own feelings in a way I never could.
Thank you for this beautiful poem. You are a truly wonderful writer.
Just this afternoon, exhausted after my own set of issues, and after taking some time walking and sitting in the sun at a local park, I was thinking many of the same thoughts and wrote a note to myself; "I begin again".
I guess that is life. Each day. Each moment. We must begin again.

sparker said...

love love LOVE your words, perfect. can I repost your poetry on my blog if I link back to you? beautiful, I will be back!!!
sara jane parker

littlegypsy. said...

i continue to be stunned by your gorgeous strings of words! thank you.

margie said...

today you have surpassed yourself. every word is just terrific

Jaime said...

Oh, the things we do to resist life's inevitable little losses.
Why are we so afraid of failure?

I am so loving your poetry.