Self-Compassion by James Crews


By James Crews

My friend and I snickered the first time

we heard the meditation teacher, a grown man,

call himself honey, with a hand placed

over his heart to illustrate how we too

might become more gentle with ourselves

and our runaway minds. It’s been years

since we sat with legs twisted on cushions,

holding back our laughter, but today

I found myself crouched on the floor again,

not meditating exactly, just agreeing

to be still, saying honey to myself each time

I thought about my husband splayed

on the couch with aching joints and fever

from a tick bite—what if he never gets better?—

or considered the threat of more wildfires,

the possible collapse of the Gulf Stream,

then remembered that in a few more minutes,

I’d have to climb down to the cellar and empty

the bucket I placed beneath a leaky pipe

that can’t be fixed until next week. How long

do any of us really have before the body

begins to break down and empty its mysteries

into the air? Oh honey, I said—for once

without a trace of irony or blush of shame—

the touch of my own hand on my chest

like that of a stranger, oddly comforting

in spite of the facts.

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