May 22, 2021

Knowing who you are.

A young man tells me, “I don’t know who I am,”

And I want to grab him and shake him.

Or perhaps I should shake the parents

Who somehow failed to teach him.

But I don’t. I just tell him the truth.

“You are the mountains that spring up

When continental plates shift. 

You are the eternal oasis, cool and clean,

In that desert with no beginning or end.

You are the river when the snow melts,

The mountain lark that flew down to the valley

And didn’t bother to explain why, 

That first bit of blue sky after a wild storm.

And also this, you are the wild storm.”

I do not know if my words struck home,

I have grown older now, my beard is white,

And I refuse to hide the truth.


Every morning I give my parakeet and my conure fresh birdseed. They make their happy sounds and enjoy some breakfast. I also toss their old birdseed outside on the patio, where a small colony of finches then have a little feast. On both sides of the sliding glass door there are happy, well-fed birds. And me. Life is good.


That I might peel away the layers of nonsense I have built around myself that hide who I am. That I might know myself before the time of knowing comes to an end, and that I might use that knowledge, such as it is, in a positive manner.


Peace is every step. It turns the endless path to joy.

-Thich Nhat Hanh


Ren Powell

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VIA NEGATIVA, purveyors of fine poetry since 2003


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