the animal eats
the animal eats
Vining toward repair
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Vining toward repair
I was sick. The friendship economy always wins. I published some poems.
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Forgive me, always, my little dramatics.
It's just that I would die without friendship.

I am an ardent believer in the friendship economy—the combined resources between comrades that, exchanged freely and with affection, creates shared spiritual and emotional wealth.

There is no debt in the friendship economy, no scarcity or recession. The friendship economy is an economy of abundance. It relies on trust. It is fueled by faith that the arc of love is long, and it bends toward balance.

The friendship economy is reciprocity.

I make you dinner.
You bring me flowers.
You ask my opinion.
I ask for grace.
You leave three black plums in a bowl at my doorstep.
I water your ferns for a week.
I drive five hours out of the way to meet your baby and bring you bagels. You remember me when I was foolish and fill my head with all sorts of ideas about how the world could be.
You shuck me oysters.
I watch your dog.
You ask if I want tea, and make sure there's enough hot water. I carefully peel a clementine and offer you a piece.
You tell me what I need to hear, not only what I want.
Because you trust me to hear it.
And I love you for that.

When we offer what we have to give, we tend to find what we need.

My beloved and I went down, hard, with covid this past month. Even now, recovering and testing steadily negative, I'm still not quite myself.

I am easily exhausted and my voice wears out swiftly. I have struggled to write. To express complex thoughts. I have struggled to breathe as deeply as I like, and need. The other day I drove for twenty minutes in the wrong direction to the garden center ten minutes away before realizing I had no idea where I was going. I was listening to the new Beyonce album at the time, in my defense. I haven't been as sharp as I try to be.

I am not good at being sick.
I despise feeling weak.

(I do not know anyone who is or at least would say they are great at illness and love to feel deficient. Still, it's worth being frank.)

It was, as you likely know already, difficult to accept. The need to pause. The requirement of rest. It's not just a good idea or a cool thing to say: the body demands repair. And when we don't willingly give the body what it needs, it will find a way to get it. When you don't listen to logic, and you try to tough through it, the body can and will take you down.

For four days I had a fever, blinding migraine, and bone deep aches that felt like childhood growing pains, followed by ten days of congestion and coughing, all of which I spent mostly sleeping and not eating much, on account of the simmering nausea, cramps, and loss of taste. I write this now a full week later, with a lingering cough and earache, after taking a one hour nap in the middle of the day. The best and only way I have been able to take care of myself is by resting. Doing nothing.

This is not my best event.

However. I was able to practice, goddammit I am blessed. I was able to say to my colleagues I cannot do it, and still know it would get done. We were able to decide for ourselves to slow all the way down and move at the speed of our collective ability. I am grateful, my goodness I am so fucking grateful, that I was able to just be sick. And that I was cared for, so well and so easefully, by those I care for too.

For Sarah who left a mountain of medicine at our door. For Jim and Tanuja who dropped off a bottomless bag of treats and zines and two books of poems, thank god. For every kindness. Every mountain from Ariel. Naomi's drawing of a horse.

For Lauren and Nermin who sent a DoorDash gift card that kept us up to our tits in chicken soup. For Kris, who I haven't seen in three years, in town from her mountain farm in North Carolina, who has reconfigured my life with her generosity of wisdom and who was due to stay a few days in our home, so graciously responded to our broken plans, reminding me that life is as long as it is short, and our stars always align.

She reminded me part of our agreement to each other is faith and flexibility. We promise each other patience. She reminded me to let go of the weekend I was so looking forward to, and to practice—and notice—healing.

She, like so much in my world these days, reminded me, she reminds me, how love is so much letting go. Of guilt and disappointment. Rigid expectation. Fear of losing. Fear of change. Fear of weakness, of need. Letting go of the destructive myth of rugged independence and cultivating in its stead a rich, resilient interdependence, faith that our shared resources are more than enough. That solidarity will provide. Together, we have what we need.

lucille clifton

As I mentioned, or at least suggested, I'm a bit soft at the moment. Forgive me. I am wealthy with friendship.

One other thing that happened recently is I've got three poems published in the Spring/Summer issue of Blue River Review. They are each of them a love poem for a friend. They are part of something bigger. But for now, they're here, and I'm so glad for you to meet them.

moon mountain

i think of you beloved and think of blue feathers, 
sun breeze, sighing through shade and grass, bird song 
clear as stars stay burning, whether or not we see them. 
do you remember the spring we drove ten hours 
toward mountains to breathe? we buried stones 
in earth at night and hummed ourselves to sleep. 
there may have been a cigarette. i’m certain 
there were lemons. in the morning, you walked 
us through mud and berries and toward a tree 
whose trunk had torn itself in two insisting 
on its chances, leaving at its heart a wound 
that grew into a nest. you said this one is you. 


this tender revolution 

what if i told you what i meant by that exactly? 
that when i say this tender revolution i am saying 
i’ve been changed, i’ve changed. i have chosen 
something else. i am bigger than before i think 
or big enough to hold me, having learned i think
to be me wholly and in so doing learned i hope
to see you, holy, holy, fully as you are, my loving
softly, gently, holy, whole, unwanting—what i want 
to say is take my time, i’m finished counting.

all i think i need i have.


i give me something soft 

dahlia gathered me bloomstruck 
by the thick of it 

for once i say i need you here
(i am vining toward repair) 

what i want for you is spacious
home lush and greening sweetly 

i leave fuschia at your door
walk beneath whatever sky

I hope you feel the sun on your face today.
I hope you are healthy.
I hope you feel loved.


i want more.

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the animal eats

the animal eats

a bi-weekly reading of a beloved poem or excerpt from my bedside table, accompanied by a few stray thoughts and, on occasion, work in progress.

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Kristin Lueke

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