The Prayer

All my life,

I’ve been praying,

Something I have not allowed

Myself to see

Until now.

For the caterpillar,

So that it could become

That most magnificent creature

Capable of flight.

For the sun-scorched grasses,

So that it may

Return to that holiest of green.

With the riot of flowers

Peppering lawns and fields

With reminders

Of what is possible

When we notice,

And even when we don’t.

With the cycles themselves,

The snow sitting heavily

On hidden ice,

The worms coming through

The pavement in spring.

The crickets,

Giving us our late summer hymn,

The fading leaves of fall.

I’ve been praying

With the trees,

Who were born into psalm,

And are unwavering

In their prayer for us,

That we, too,

Can find our way

To withstand the hurt,

Brush past our denial,

And breathe the good air

That is left

So that we may give back

The promise of tomorrow.

I have been praying,

Small as a scampering squirrel

Running between the shrubs

Dividing households

With no sense of borders,

Knitting together a world.

I have been lovingly

In the throes of creation

Praying one word, one stich

At a time,

As possibilities arise.

I have let the sun

And moonlight bathe me,

Oceans take me,

And every submersion

Into what sustains me

Has been a prayer of gratitude

And belonging, and love.

And faith.

For we are here,

Imbued with great power,

And prayer has always had

The answers.

  • Tammy Stone Takahashi

Upside-Down and In-Between

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I gaze at the reflection
Until I forget
There is any other world.
There are two trees
That at first looked upside down.
It didn’t take long
Before I was so immersed
In this world of trees
Suspended from the sky,
The empty ground below,
The muted glitter
Of the sakura lights
Hung side by side
With the dried leaves
Of Japanese maple
That winter left behind.
I wasn’t quite a part of this world;
I was aware of my legs,
Large and looming,
Close to me,
In the waterworld below;
There was no way to enter.
But the other world had left,
And I had no thought
Of bringing it back,
Of needing to belong to the scene.
Observing was my way of belonging,
Of being immersed
In the world of contemplation,
Which filled me.
When I did finally look up,
I was startled to see the world I knew
And was mine to join,
And here I was,
Not in one or the other,
But somewhere in between,
And I knew I would have to decide,
And knew it would be impossible,
The upside down world no less real,
The familiar world no less imagined,
I, as witness, with my expanded view,
Exactly where I wanted to be.

– Tammy Stone Takahashi

The World is Burning

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What is a prayer
if not a question so deeply asked
that the body starts to tremble
as the tears fall,
and a heart that opens
like a flower under the love of the sun,
slowly but according to the rhythms
(the roars and swells,
the sighs of turning inward
in a world ever revolving)
ready, now, to hear, and to listen?
It is a time of burning, of flooding,
of maniacal sweepings through,
and we are afraid,
and underneath that, we know,
and so we pray.
We close our eyes,
and feel the ocean of suffering.
We bring our hands
that have reached for the world
back to ourselves,
where we turn to all this pain
with our ancient legacy of compassion
as we surrender,
and fill the space between us
with hope, that underside of pain
that in the shadows feeds from
the rich home of our earth,
the shelter we will love back to life.
 
– Tammy Takahashi

 

 

 

 

 

The Earth is Crying, But We are Still Here

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People are falling.
The world is burning.
Mountains are exploding
and trees are disappearing
and children are being wrested
from their parents and still,
somehow, we carry on
and forget to buy milk
and fall in and out of love,
and the ashes of a civilization
about to drown are seeping
into our art, our dreams, our poems.
Sometimes it seems as though
we have chosen to forget
what tethers us to each other,
and to this great expanse of world,
so consumed are we
by our need to protect what is ours.
But what we think we know
does not always align
with the wisdom of this universe
through which we live, breathe,
love, make mistakes,
and where it does, will we
find the courage to live
and die on an axis of this wisdom?
Can we stop for a moment,
and let what is wrong
fill our consciousness,
so that we see, and know,
and can we open our eyes,
and look for the everyday miracles
telling us that growth, and regeneration
are the legacy of Mother Nature,
of which we are a beautiful part,
can we find the buds of green
sprouting through the dried out concrete,
and vow to put the same happiness
into all the sad, miserable hiding places
until we can all sing the same sounds
from the same clean air
and from the same place of freedom?

– Tammy Takahashi

The Gold is You

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The silence is gold.
The words carefully chosen,
they are golden too.
The gilded edges of youth;
our nostalgia,
which turns everything we had to gold.
And the path that we walk,
as we birth ourselves
into a new life, a new mind,
and a warrior heart for the times,
is it gold-flecked and is it pure?
Can you find the places within
that have tarnished
through our fear of being hurt again,
and can we make them gleam again
with a fierce self-love
more difficult to achieve
than any other kind of victory,
and with compassion for all beings,
the ones ahead of you,
guiding your forward,
and the ones behind you,
who look to you and smile,
and take comfort in the possibility
of reaching destinations,
and extending the horizon
until we are all gazing at it,
from one giant shared space, together?
The sun, our greatest remind of what is gold,
and gives its golden nature so freely.
The gold us Us. The gold is you.
 
– Tammy Takahashi

The Garden of Your Heart

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What is in the garden of your heart?
Is it growing wildly,
according to its nature,
free of the burdens of symmetry,
conformity to the structure of design?
Is it heeding its own rules and principles,
abiding by its own laws of harmony,
does it sing with great abandon
the songs from its forebears
that are embedded in its bones,
or when those do not do the work of healing,
a tune of its own making?
Does it feel joy and sorrow
in equal measure, and celebrate both
as grand pillars of the human experience?
Does it come to stand in great stillness
so as to invite in the whispers
of what lies beyond our precious humanity?
Have you done all you can to ensure
that the garden of your heart
has what it needs to keep growing,
and do you trust it to be all that it is,
to thrive and stand in the light
even when the darkness, as it does, comes?
How do you take care of your heart’s garden,
knowing that the storms and seasons,
like your own caged treasure,
stay true to their own dispositions,
and destroy as they create?
Will you learn you see destruction
as the seed of all creation,
and creation as an infinity of possibility,
depending on what you want your garden to be?
Is your vision gentle, loving and kind,
and is it directed at the beauty of you?
 
– Tammy Takahashi

Heed the Call

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The direction is not always clear,
obscured as it can remain from us,
as long as we march ahead, thick as fire,
on the same path that brought us here.
Here, with confusions, mumblings why,
various shades of unease, their shadows.
How much do we end up leaving behind
in our seething convictions of where
we must go? How much of the unseen
remains just outside the realm of our
possibilities? Let us fight for our choices,
Dare to expand the view, heeding the call
of the inner voice that tells us, there is
a symphony of voices needing to be heard,
for our very lives, for my need to hear you,
for you to hear me. To honour both. To
cherish all. To find our mothers and fathers,
brothers and sisters, in every single thing
that breathes, as they step into the seen,
and we find each other, and we take
the steps that feed our very creation.
 
– Tammy Takahashi

Healing Our World

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There are so many ways
to be, to say, to act, to feel,
There are so many avenues
on the path from here to there,
So many roads that have led us
to this converged, crystal moment
that we know in our bones is full
of tremendous suffering and sorrow.
The anger has erupted, is spilling over;
we are not attending to the pain inside.
We are fighting every last instinct
to come forward with our deep dark stories
and nobody is listening, really hearing us.
We are not seeing; we are not being seen.
Our stories, which need air to heal
are fighting for every last breath.
We are trying to claw our way out,
But find ourselves stuck where we started,
and we know – it can’t go on like this.
It can’t go on. We can’t. And we won’t.
So we are here, but we are not here.
The principles that can carry us forward
will never desert us, but we’ve forgotten
how to reach for them, and to learn
how to be what we already are,
when we attend to the softest self
that lies underneath volcanic explosions
and swims in an ocean of time,
before and after history, outside of all this.
Let us not forget our history,
Let us honour each and every one,
But let us also not forget
the love, compassion, respect, heart
that allow for herstory’s continuance.
That bring us to our only and true nature
that ebbs, flows, screams, soothes,
but always comes back to this,
a warrior’s kind and gentle persistence.

– Tammy Takahashi

For All the Victims of Sexual Assault, With Love.

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People’s hearts are ripping open.
Mine is too. The clawing tear.
There is no painless way to arrive
at the truth, at emancipation.
To wrest the long-buried secrets
From festering in the darkest caves,
To lay bare the grisly stories
And understand the vicious stronghold
Of the oppressor in locking them down,
For so long, in their greed, and fear.
There is no winner where power lives.
There is no winner where power lives.
Past the bloody fields of power’s rule,
I see children. Wounded, bright, pure.
They are us. What we want to be.
What we have never learned
To retain as we grow older.
I see us feeling before thinking.
I see us accepting before drawing lines
in the sand of you and I, he and she.
I see us looking around at the wreckage,
unsure how this all came to be.
I see us crying, understanding
from a deep place of ancient sadness.
I see looking at each other and
bowing at the alter of what is sacred
in every last person among us, and,
without speaking, vowing. Never again.
No subjugation. No lies. No cover-ups.
No thirst for more than we need.
No false needs. No avoiding the pain inside.
I see us embracing our pain together.
I see us knowing this pain is all of ours.
I see us reaching for joy beyond pain,
and knowing this joy has no limits,
and is destined for each one of us.
I see peace. I see love. I see peace.
 
– Tammy Takahashi

I May Never …

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It may never be enough,
what I am able to tell myself
about the beauty and purity
in this world.
I may never come to know
the ancient and eternal wisdom
of a sacred tree
in trust of the ground that holds it
and the sky that receives
its every last fluttering wing.
I may never know the grace
of a sun that sets
without fear it won’t rise again,
of a river that has never doubted
its path or destination.
But I will stay.
I will sit among the splendor,
and watch its holy manner,
and I will rest in awe,
of what my heart
may one day understand.

– Tammy Takahashi