Living Comfortably with Uncertainty


Live with Your Questions

I’m always concerned with the natural world and it’s weight on our self inquiry and our metaphysical inner world as we humans need answers to everything, impatient for the questions to be ticked off like a to do list. At least this is where I thought I was going with this one. Sometimes there are no good answers like “why me, god? Why do I have cancer?” There’s no answer.

Please note this is a prior edit of this poem. Poems in a way can sometimes never be quite done but I wasn’t fond of a bit of the consistency of word choice or the sounds some of the words made. Sometimes sound can break a good poem in half and it becomes a bad poem. I learnt long ago not to get married to my writing. I might separate from it for a while, never to let it back in my mind again. The sound of the trash bin on my Mac is so appropriate- the sound of a piece of paper being crumpled to toss in the rubbish bin.

Live with Your Questions

Sit silently with your questions.
Be still for a spell and
Nourish your moments
With deserved tenderness.
Like newborns, feed and
Swaddle them. Rock sweetly and hum softly,
In the rhythm of their slumbering breath.

They know the only moment
Ever to be is here.
Respond to the answer slowly walking on your green
Green path of infinite directions.
Some trodden on, some never known.
Think of
Nothing. Leave behind the infant you
So carefully loved.
Why rush her to grow?
She grows regardless of your
Prodding for politeness or
For prodigy. Yet in stillness she
Will become.
The answers reveal
Themselves only when you’ve
Forgotten to ask why.
These questions over the twine of time become like
Gemstones beaded into a
Necklace weighing you —
Bowing you down
In prayer or in repentance.

Break the chain relinquish all the heaviness. Inhale and allow
A breath of freedom.
Cut the weight from around
Your neck.
Rock in time with the child
Who knows no answers.
The coolness of this moment
Unhindered by what should be
Won’t be again
But nor will the answers you
Held out your arms to gather
Like flowers from a garden
That’s not ever been yours to own.

– for Julia Barnicle

Julia, may you have found the ease you so espoused here for us earthly beings, wherever you are I miss you.

10 comments on “Living Comfortably with Uncertainty”

    1. Thank you and I hope julia knows we all love her and her memory will always be alive as long as we are here to say her name. I surely miss her. I would love to complete the goal we had of interviews of all the women who wrote for the two anthologies she’d edited last year and then have them read their essays. I think it would be such a great honor and memorial to such a beautiful voice and one that’s very much missed. By the way I love your voice in reading your posts – what a great idea I’ve always wanted to do that to make the blog and poetry accessible whether someone had time to read or listen. I’d love to find out how you went about it? Was it just an embedded mp3? You have a fabulous voice by the way!
      #WeWillNotForget is right that’s for sure.
      Much love

  1. We are as significant as the flower – we are as fleeting as well. I think that s where I love to sit in nature – listening to the hundreds of birds I cannot even see in the trees round the house makes me just shudder with insignificance but in writing we can capture that awe and emotion. There’s a great horned owl that loves to come visit. He or she sits out somewhere and I hear: who who who hooooo who who who hoooooo. I call back in the same tone – who who who who hoooo and i calls back in kind, we play like this for as long as I can keep it up and she will get closer and closer to my voice. They have such distinct calls. And so easy to mimic. It’s something i love as much as being bzzzzd by a hummingbird on its way to gather nectar so it may live as long as possible. I feel more akin to the hummingbirds – truing to keep up as much energy so it can pack in as much living into its short life as possible. The higher the heart rate the shorter the mortality rate. I find it remarkable they’re life spans are 3 years roughly the same mortality rate as an mbc diagnosis.

  2. Love the imagery with the flowers at the end. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of the fact that we feel entitled to certain things that really aren’t ours to have. If let go of the entitlement, we let go of our problems. Strangely, there’s always something very comforting about recognizing how insignificant each one of us is in comparison to Mother Nature and the cosmos.

  3. Very nice introspective contemplative piece. It harps on “the only certainty is uncertainty”. Break the chain immediately reminded me of the Fleetwood Mac song. There is such power in this piece because living comfortably with uncertainty goes against our being as humans.

    1. Mila I completely agree – the only thing that’s certain is change and change is uncertain, as always. We never know what’s behind the next door except it’s open and the situation will be different depending on how we experience it and what we bring to it. What I love so much about poetry and this current renaissance it seems to be having, is that it teaches us so much about the human condition. This is actually one of my favorite pieces I’ve written in a long time, next to weeds which is one of yours too. We coincide on so much I think the melody and the meter of the words probably appeals to you as well as it does to me. I do write in form from time to time, it takes much longer but like a person who paints once doesn’t get to go to the open form poetry without proving themselves worthy on creating sonnets or sestinas. Sestinas are some of my favored to practice my craft using repeating words is a very risky task and not for the amateur or faint of heart. Selecting the repeating words is enough to make you go bonkers. Love you, you know it, Ilene.

  4. Ilene,
    This is beautiful and filled with profound truth.
    I love, “The answers reveal Themselves only when you’ve Forgotten to ask why.” That is worth pondering.
    The other lines that resonated at this time in my life– as a grandmother of one and three-year-old grandsons, “Rock in time with the child Who knows no answers.” Watching those boys I understand this.
    Thanks for sharing how to Live with Your Questions– which is so hard.
    Warm Regards,

    1. Connie thank you so much for deeply reading and spending the time to make the poem yours. Thats the job of the writer – to capture the readers imagination enough to make it their own, and let go of the poem like a free bird to spread its wings and take flight to bring its color to other eyes. Much love. Ilene

  5. Some questions I get answers for – some don’t. I believe Julia is still with you. She’s in your memories, your heart, and your writing. ❤️

I welcome your comments!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.