From A Prayer the Body Makes...

Healing the Wound With Honey

     ~Numerous studies have shown that difficult-to-heal wounds respond well to honey dressings. 

It must have been inflicted in another life, 
this wound we can’t remember, not even sure
whose it may have been. Sometimes we feel 
a rift in the flesh needing stitches, or a wound

of the spirit that even the heavy blue dressing 
of the sky can’t fix—an invisible fissure in the 
heart or brain, cradled in our arms like a refugee
child too damaged to weep.
Sometimes we hear the bees whose sting is less
important than their task of filling the comb
for the queen, or the beekeeper in his white suit
and gloves, humming back at the hive.

We each have a job to do—the bees to gather
nectar and transform it into honey, the beekeeper
to steal the pot of gold. And what is our work,
we who need to learn the art of scars?

We must learn the names of honey, give its
sticky sweetness to our tongues,  fill our
cupped hands with healing, and offer it to the
ancestors of our still open wounds.


When I Taught Her How to Tie Her Shoes

A revelation, the student
in high school who didn’t know
how to tie her shoes.

I took her into the book-room, knowing
what I needed to teach was perhaps more
important than Shakespeare or grammar,

guided her hands through the looping,
the pulling of the ends. After several
tries, she got it, walked out the door

empowered. How many lessons are like
that—skills never mastered in childhood,
simple tasks ignored, let go for years?

This morning, my head bald from chemotherapy,
my feet farther away than they used to be
as I bend to my own shoes, that student

returns to teach me the meaning of life:
to simply tie the laces and walk out
of myself into this sunny winter day.