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Sheep by Jane Hirshfield

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I am looking out my window, trying to understand the presence of rain on a hot April afternoon. I had a list of things to do in my head: answer letters, book a flight, read a book, get some work done. Try to end the week productive. Be responsible. Connect with the world. Make good choices. I’m not all the way there, but I did okay. I think.

It’s the small mercies we give ourselves, yes? Setting goals and meeting them—that’s hard work, sure. But forgiving yourself for failing, and failing again—that’s phenomenal.

Awhile back, R. shared with me two prayers. I was quite sure they’ll be ruined when spoken by me. But R., well—he knows me. He gave me one for the sunrise: “I am not afraid to die today.” And another for the sunset: “I am glad to be alive.

Here’s another.

Jane Hirshfield

It is the work of feeling
to undo expectation.

A black-faced sheep
looks back at you as you pass
and your heart is startled
as if by the shadow
of someone once loved.

Neither comforted by this
nor made lonely.

Only remembering
that a self in exile is still a self,
as a bell unstruck for years
is still a bell.

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