Sometimes we read something that is so true for us, so apt, so equal to exactly what we are feeling, that the words become our own. That is what happened for me 10 years ago when I first read this poem. It so perfectly captured the relationship that I was in the midst of that I actually thought and felt that the poem was mine—that the words were mine—even that I had written it. I didn’t write it of course. I merely lived it. I guess, in some ways, that makes me an “author” of it…
In the end, this poem did so much for me that, when I ran across it again I felt compelled to share it. Perhaps another woman today is “living” this poem as I once did and she too will want to make it her own.
My thanks to the wonderful Oriah Mountain Dreamer for giving sight to my blindness and for giving words to my voicelessness. My thanks to a poet for knowing what was in me and what needed to be said before I even knew it myself.
I bow to her wisdom.
It doesn’t interest me to know what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
And if you dare to dream of meeting
Your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
For love, for your dream,
For the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow,
If you have been opened by life’s betrayals,
Or if you have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain,
Mine or your own,
To hide it or fade it or fix it.
And I want to know if you can be with joy,
Mine or your own,
If you can dance with wildness
And let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
Without cautioning anyone to be careful, or to be realistic,
or to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself,
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
I want to know if you can see beauty
Even when it is not pretty every day,
And if you can source your life
From its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure,
Yours and mine,
And still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,
Weary and bruised to the bone,
And do what needs to be done for the children.
I want to know if you will stand
In the center of the fire with me
And not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
From the inside
When all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone
And if you truly like the company you keep
In the empty moments
When there is no one there
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Wikimedia Commons
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