“It’s harder to practice that tender emptiness of forbearance, that aches and yearns and still lets go, and that can recognize and hold the aching of others as well.” ~ seon joon
I think of their assorted quarrels through the years—
mother-sister-aunt-grandmother: the constant drama
of porcelain cracked and strewn on hardwood floor or
kitchen tile; names and insults hurled that sailed
through early mornings like jets of hot water
flung from coffee-pots and always found their mark;
bruise in the joint, their point of tension, their central
subject pain and desire. This grandmother lived with us
shortly after my father— her favorite and only son—
insisted he loved this farmer’s daughter enough
to marry her in church, before a throng of haughty relatives.
There are pictures, yes, of arras, veil, and cord.
And see in the background? The younger sister with the veil?
That is my mother too. We all kept house together, she
most of all, ladle constantly in hand; pot on the boil,
salt in the water. Then me in the oven for everyone
to fawn over and fondle, plot a future for. And this
grandmother is the same I tell those stories of,
that you still can hardly believe: how she slept
between the two of them that first night in their
marriage bed, how she parted the curtains of her room
to glare at mother’s lady friends when they might come
to call. God rest the souls of those who’ve gone ahead:
their hot angers finally assuaged, all their poor or lavish,
restless or unrequited loves absolved of any imperfection;
their cries and voices stilled in soft pillows of earth.
In response to thus: such tender emptiness.