Please listen closely
because their menu options
have changed and your call
is important to them, even if
they are experiencing
an unusually high call volume.

If you are having a
medical emergency, hang up
and dial 911.

But if your need is less
acute, more ordinary —
say, a human being who
might listen,
who might help —

then hold, and hold,
because your call
is important to them,
and they will play music —
the same, over and over —
to spare you the acuity
of a silence

that suggests a better
menu option, one
that never changes, that
does not dissemble, that
offers itself endlessly
to you

who might, now,
hang up and watch

the deft delicate birds,
how they perch
on frozen branches

or the bold squirrels,
who turn their tails
to the sharp wind
to eat what is offered

or the soft supplication
of deer nosing
the last green grass
beneath accumulating snow.

Some will be dead tomorrow,
but in those lives
not one moment

Let affliction be, and death come;
let it find you no longer holding for
the treatment, or the cure —
as if your slow dying were an emergency —

but released finally
to the gorgeous impersonal world
of wild and perishable things

that answers you immediately
that welcomes you wordlessly
though you are nothing
at all.







  1. I love this! I am so in awe of your abilities. Thank you for sharing this with us all. p.s. Thanks too for including the pic of the squirrel. I find squirrels endlessly fascinating (and often amusing!).


    1. Thank you kindly! My neighborhood is rich with squirrels, and Chloe — the one who began training me to offer peanuts a couple years ago — continues to come into the kitchen for treats. She seems pleased that I have responded so well to her guidance. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. D'Arcy Fallon · · Reply



    1. D’Arce! Thank you, but mostly: SO good to hear from you. I think of you often. I’ll write you at Wittenberg later this week and hope to hear back.


  3. Thank you, Cate. As I reached a certain place while reading, chills took me over. Absolutely lovely, humbling and thought provoking!


    1. What a lovely compliment; thank you for sharing your response!


  4. Gorgeous impersonal world that welcomes me though I am nothing important at all. Yes. Beautiful. I will head out there now.


    1. Always a great idea. I hope you are enjoying it as I write. 🙂


  5. amyvictoriamcewen6452 · · Reply

    Thank you for this lovely and profound poem. Makes me cry, but makes me think of music.


    1. All good, then. Thank you for reading and responding; I appreciate it!


  6. Thank you. Beautiful and mournful words making me feel this rainy day.
    “…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 14-15 ESV


    1. Thank you for reading, and for sharing this lovely verse. Wishing you a fully lived day.

      Liked by 1 person

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