After getting engaged, getting sick, and then hosting friends for a few days, I am back with a vengeance. And by vengeance, I mean “poem.” And by “poem,” I mean thing that I wrote after reading and loving and being inspired by an actual poem, written by Barbara Ras. (Big thanks to my friend Rose for sharing it on her blog.)

You Can’t Have It All

But you can have the wood behind your house and its hidden multitudes
of birds, rabbits, and deer. You can have the rise and fall of a dog’s warm, furry chest
beneath your palm, as you sit on the couch trying to work.
You can have the hum of the refrigerator and the cyclic rumble and whine
of the washing machine, the noises of home, which remind you
there will always be a familiar place to come back to. And when it is August,
you can have heat and abundantly so. You can have hope
though it will often be bittersweet, like the chunks of dark chocolate
that you nibble on throughout the day, sugar melting on your tongue,
until you realize hope isn’t the same as conviction.
You can have the softness of your soulmate’s cheek,
pressed against your lips. You can have the garden of imagination,
creeping upward into the sunlight, less than wild,
but more than the seeds that others plant
and never water.
You can reach for your mother’s heritage, sometimes,
and brush it with your fingertips. You can pray to the god you don’t believe in
when you worry about those you love. You can’t fix everything,
but you can find the best parts of yourself in the worst of times
and polish them brighter than silver. And you can be grateful
for tank tops, the cool air on your bare arms, too little, too much, grateful
for TV shows that make you laugh and cry, for books
that take you to another world, and for deeper adventures,
for airplanes, for trains. You can have the dream,
the dream of Greece, the ruins of Greece and you walking among history.
You can have your grandmother listening to you play piano,
in a Christmas memory, you can have waves and chalkboards, the fogging
of windows, and oil sizzling like radio static as it jumps from the skillet.
You can’t expect success to float down to you like a leaf
but here is your friend to teach you how to keep swimming,
how to fight your fear of drowning, onward,
until it doesn’t matter how far or fast you go, only that you continue,
and here are bluebonnets, bunk beds, photos developing in a slow fade
under dim red lights. And when adulthood isn’t what you expected,
you can summon the memory of fairy wings tied to the costume
of your childhood, the M&M Blizzards and chili cheese fries
that you ate with your parents every time you went to the sailboat.
There is the wind you still hear on the roof, like a friend,
it will always sing, you can’t have it all,
but there is this.

8 responses to “You can’t have it all, but…”

  1. Ingrid Avatar

    Ah, Kristan, I love this! Love Barbara’s too. Good stuff :)

  2. Shari Avatar

    Love this — such a good reminder of all there is to appreciate in life.

    (Also: hope you’re feeling better!)

  3. Juliann Avatar

    I love this poem! It’s inspired me to write some poetry now, too. I think great poetry does that.

  4. Kristan Avatar

    Thanks, guys!

  5. T. S. Bazelli Avatar

    Beautiful! There’s always something to be thankful for, even when some things aren’t going well.

  6. Laura Avatar

    Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for constantly being an inspiration :)

  7. Jon Avatar

    Beautiful poem. I especially liked the last line:

    And when adulthood isn’t what you expected, you can summon the memory of fairy wings tied to the costume
    of your childhood…

  8. linda Avatar

    aww, love the poem! thanks for sharing! :D