Friday, February 29, 2008

Poetry Friday: You Can't Have It All

I went in search of a poem with a "leap" in it, and found this poem by Barbara Ras. I would like to whisper it to myself every morning before it gets light outside. It makes my heart leap; it truly does.

You Can't Have It All

But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands

gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old

on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.

You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look

of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite

every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,

you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,

(read the rest here)

Poetry Friday is hosted today by ever-organized Kelly Fineman, who put her post up extra early so we can all link at our leisure. Way to leap, Kelly!!


  1. but you can have the words forgive and forget hold

    as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be

    "You can't have it all, but there is this."

    Says a mouthful. I'd like to recite this every morning, too, in hopes that I could make it true...

  2. What a great way to begin the morning. Thank you, thank you for making this poem known.

  3. "you can't have it all, but there is this."

    Oh, yes, that's one to cling to, for many a "this."

  4. Oh, wow. I just read the poem aloud, and love it so much!! I'm printing it out so I can read it all the time.

    My favorite: "the soulful look of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite every sorrow until it fled . . ."

    Full of beautiful moments and so life affirming.
    Did I tell you how much I love this poem?

  5. Sara,

    I love this poem. I can understand your wanting to read it again and again. It's a really fine example of a list poem.

  6. I love this poem! I'm bookmarking it to read again on other mornings.

    Not to blow my own horn, but I have the end-of-the-day version over at my site today.

  7. "You can't have it all, there is this." Oh, my.

    And I loved oh so many of the lines, but maybe these best of all for the juxtaposition of imagery with the makeup and because I so love Mozart's "too many notes":

    And you can be

    for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia,

    for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy,

  8. Oh my lord.
    You can have it August, and abundantly so.
    This is enough to get me through many a day, right here. Thank you thank you thank you...

  9. Wonderful! I need to keep this one close to hand so I can keep reading it... Thank you.

  10. What a great find.

    It reminded me of two great books I read last year; Jose Saramago's Blindness because of the dog, and David Mitchell's Black Swan Green because of the swan. I can't write a book, but I have those.

  11. Oh, I'm so glad all of you are loving it too. It's one of those poems that makes me think: how in the world could I have not known about this one? Why is it not written in the sky, or something??

  12. Hey, Sara. This is a great find, as everyone is saying. Very touching. Thanks!

  13. "And when adulthood fails you..."

    Not IF, but WHEN. So true.

    This will make a good lap counting mantra at the pool tomorrow: 1: "You can't have it all," 2: "But there is this," 3: Think of a thing or time that made/makes me happy. Repeat until I get to 36 laps. Emerge from pool well balanced in the head and well exercised in the body.

  14. Mary Lee, what a beautiful, energizing idea. Swim a few laps for me!

  15. Such a beautiful poem! Thank you!

  16. Sara, thanks for this celebration of the small realities and blessings of life!


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