Instructions for the Journey by Pat Schneider
Instructions for the Journey
The self you leave behind
is only a skin you have outgrown.
Don’t grieve for it.
Look to the wet, raw, unfinished
self, the one you are becoming.
The world, too, sheds its skin:
politicians, cataclysms, ordinary days.
It’s easy to lose this tenderly
unfolding moment. Look for it
as if it were the first green blade
after a long winter. Listen for it
as if it were the first clear tone
in a place where dawn is heralded by bells.
And if all that fails,
wash your own dishes.
Stand in your kitchen at your sink.
Let cold water run between your fingers.
There are letters to write. Some to you. Some to myself. And there are poems, oh page after page after page of them. Sometimes I wish I can show you.
Sometimes I wish I can take you. When I’m writing, I mean. But then we have this place, don’t we? Some pages a reckoning. Some pages a homecoming. But always, always a journey.
Yes, there’ll still be heavy stones scattered about my life. Some days I might even put them in my pocket. But I’m hoping I’ll kick them out of the way, watch them roll off the path, go about my day, eventually forget. I’m crossing my fingers.
I’ve left myself a thousand times before. I’m so concerned about being I haven’t thought about becoming.
This poem appeared in Olive Street Transfer by Pat Schneider, published by Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 1999. Shared here with profound gratitude.
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