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o’ wondrous pain,
illuminating discomfort —
how you have painted
this earth to suit your ease,
the slow swing of your step

it is perhaps
a sign of your privilege
that you praise cuts
and bruises to small children
who do not know to defend

your princess
could not sleep with even
a pea under
her mattress, yet you ask me
to take joy in bumps and scrapes

no, I long for hope —
an open ear that does not
reduce my path
to simple unknowables,
that bears these lessons on all

not for cruelty
but for connection, to birth
compassion, to draw
us to each other, our ears
tilted to each others’ wounds

— From Hafiz, ‘She responded’ (trans. Daniel Ladinksy)

Hafiz has been occupying my mind a great deal lately. In ’She responded,’ he writes:

It is healthy for the prisoner
to have faith

that one day he will again move about
wherever he wants;

feel the wondrous grit of life — less structured —
find all wounds, debts stamped, canceled, paid.

A friend’s daughter had a short life and both she and her mother experienced what anyone would agree was extreme hardship. Yet my friend tells me her daughter was her first and best teacher.

That statement always brings tears to my eyes. Her commitment to her daughter is deep and complicated — not just what feels to me like maternal love, but something far more original.

Hafiz reminds me of this friend’s journey and brings me to wonder further about pain, our dreams of escaping it, what it teaches us, and what we learn when we don’t have it.