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What You Can Do

You can put feathers in your hair.

You can put shells in a glass jar to sit on the windowsill.

You can collect rocks from holy places.

You can pray every day for forty days at the Wailing Wall.

You can pick up every penny you see

and thank your dead father for the bounty.

You can give every panhandler what they ask for.

You can chase down a beggar woman and hand her your last twenty-dollar bill.

And still,

you might get stuck like a turtle on a hot rock moving so slowly

that no one can see, so slowly, you think you might die of thirst

before you make it to the river.

You’ll make it.

Even so,

you still keep that rabbit’s foot on the dresser,

and the dollar bill from the racetrack on the refrigerator

held up by a magnet painted with the tree of life,

next to one with candles blessing the house while holding up a couple

of fortunes from cookies that promise love and happiness.

Even though,

years have passed and not all of those blessing have made it through the door,

you still want to circle the candles with your hand bringing light to your face,

keep a burden basket jingling on the front door, adjust a dream catcher over the bed.

You do remember,

to be grateful every time you enter or leave through a doorpost,

to pick up broken pieces to repair the world,

to polish rocks,

to paint color onto leaves,

to think happy thoughts.

If you can’t bring the dead to life or make dreams come true,

honor them anyway you can. Slowly, on a warm day

or a bright, cool, night, in the rain and in the rainbows that follow

the rain, in the stars and in the clouds that hide the stars,

you can still pay respects to the magic in the moments you’ve lived.

About the Author

Madlynn Haber lives with her dog, Ozzie, in a cohousing community in Northampton, Massachusetts. Her work has been published in the anthology Adult Children (Wishing Up Press, 2021), K’in Literary Journal, Spirit Fire Review, Buddhist Poetry Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Poetica Magazine, New Verse News, First Literary Review-East and other journals. Online at

1 Comment

Oct 21, 2022

Madlynn---Words to live by! Thank you for writing and sharing them.


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