RULES OF LIVING

after Mary Oliver

You do not have to be brave.
You do not have to claim immunity
against heartache after all. No matter
how many years you train to marry emotion,
there will still be days the brain feels the blade.
The matrimony of head and heart is not without feeling.
What fool burned that idea into your mind?

No, rest assured, you do not have to be brave.
You only have to continue. To brush off the way
this morning you were a bride left at the altar
by something as promising as happiness,
to march out of those church doors and back
into the marrow of your life.

You do not have to be brave.
You only have to look around.

Do you see now, love? Keep your eyes peeled.
Look— this sky still bleeds and pours
and blushes for your sake, over and over,
the ground forever taking the beating
of your footsteps with saintlike forgiveness.

You only have to continue.

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