I once had a student who moved like water,
so much so that one morning, when she came in out of the rain,
I could barely tell where the drops of rain ended and she began.
And when she spoke, I could barely tell where she ended
and her words began.
“I remember something on the bus,” she said. “Tell me if I translate it right.
Long ago, I hear teaching that say: Life is short.
We all of us die. We know that is true. So because this is true, we also know
that all we have time to do is love.
Is that right?”
This truth she dropped into my lap had the weight and the urgency
of a newborn infant.
“Yes,” I told her. “That is exactly right.”
And I will tell you now another truth:
If you look at our Earth as it really is, without the invented map lines,
you cannot tell where one nation ends and another begins.
And if we look at each other as we really are,
you cannot tell where one heart ends and another begins,
so much so that if you are not okay, then neither am I.
And so I need you to do this:
Stop inventing borders between human hearts.
We don’t have time for that.
Instead, I need you to, as best as you can,
do all you can to love
every rising and falling wave of humanity
you have the opportunity to swim through.
This can be hard with people with whom we disagree,
but if you are like me—and experience has taught me that you are—
it is often even harder with the people with whom you are
I need you to keep trying anyway,
and I promise that I will too.
Open your arms. Open your hearts. Open the borders.
Dedicated to all of my ESL students
Other poems: Micropoems For a Limited Time Only! Aftermath