"Footprints on your chest"





In the Vigelandsparken in Oslo, there are many different sculptures of human beings, caught in a variety of poses that suggest different relationships.  In the middle of the main sculpture area, there is a tall tower of human figures.  All of the sculptures are very suggestive and provocative.

Seeing them reminded me of the latest poem I memorized, which really struck me the first time I heard it for the same reason:  the way it invites reflection on the diverse, myriad relationships we have over time, and the way those relationships change us--for better or for worse.  People come in and out of our lives all the time--some stay for awhile & others leave quickly; some make a big impression & some we forget right away.  But all of them shape us in ways we don't always see at the time.  We bear the scars of some on our hearts & our faces, but we bear the joys, too--life together, all of it.  Mostly, I am deeply grateful.

"The visible and the in-" by Marge Piercy

Some people move through your life
like the perfume of peonies, heavy
and sensual and lingering.

Some people move through your life
like the sweet musky scent of cosmos
so delicate if you sniff twice, it's gone.

Some people occupy your life
like moving men who cart off
coaches, pianos, and break dishes.

Some people touch you so lightly you
are not sure it happened.  Other leave
you flat with footprints on your chest.

Some are like those fall warblers 
you can't tell from each other even
though you search Petersen's.

Some come down hard on you like
a striking falcon and the scars remain
and you are forever wary of the sky.

We are all waiting rooms at bus
stations where hundreds have passed
through unnoticed and others

have almost burned us down
and others have left us clean and new
and others have just moved in.