Some days it feels like a foreign language
I’m asked to practice, with new words
for happiness, work, and love. I’m still learning
how to say: a cup of tea for no reason,
what to call the extra honey I drizzle in,
how to label the relentless urge to do more
and more as poison. And how to translate
the heart’s pounding message when it comes:
enough, enough. This morning, I search for words
to capture the glimmering sun as it lifts
above the mountains, clouds already closing in
as fat droplets of rain darken the deck.
I’m learning to call this stillness self-care too,
just standing here, watching goldfinches
scatter up from around the feeder like pieces
of bright yellow stained-glass, reassembling
in the sheltering arms of a maple.
James Crews is the author of four collections of poetry, The Book of What Stays, Telling My Father, Bluebird, and Every Waking Moment. He is also the editor of the popular Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The New Republic, The Christian Century, and have been reprinted in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry and featured on Tracy K. Smith’s podcast, The Slowdown. Crews holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a PhD in writing from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He works as a creative coach and lives with his husband on an organic farm in Vermont.