Proof of Life

— Susan Taylor Brown

I find it hard to take anything on faith alone.

I want proof, facts to nourish the idea that mindfulness
is worth the time it takes away
from doing nothing.

Easier to cave in to echoes from the past,
nodding as they aim ink-stained arrows
at my list of undone dreams.

I think I’m finally (okay, just beginning) to understand.
Be here now is not defined
by climbing mountains and vanquishing dragons,
it is a never-ending journey
away from
back to
face-to-face with
the me I can never trust
is good enough.

Today I shadow-step the dog on garden patrol,
down the path behind the hedgerow where unwelcome Bermuda grass
creeps under the good-neighbor fence,
along the side yard filled with dogwoods, leaves still clinging
to the almost-red-for-winter branches,
and past the pond where goldfinches gather for their morning bath.
Nose to the ground, she gobbles any bugs that cross her path,
bugs that will make her throw up in the middle of the night,
bugs she will happily eat again the next day.

This is her religion, her testimony to me.
She will keep me safe from all things,
even from myself.

We weave a new path through the overgrown herb garden
until the scent of mint and sage clings to us both
until she has finally sniffed everything that could be sniffed
until she is content to sprawl in a puddle of sun,
trusting I will not stray far.
She knows how brave I’m not.

A lone, but not lonely Ceanothus
hugs the fence, just beyond her shadow.

Industrious honey bees,
fuzzy bumblebees,
plump carpenter bees
and hover bees that look like flies,
all swarm the blue blossoms,
ignoring the now sleeping, snoring dog
ignoring each other
ignoring me.

Faith isn’t always found in stained glass cathedrals.

I let go,
let go of unclimbed mountains and dragons still breathing fire,
let go of everything that isn’t here and now,
let hungry, happy bees buzz all around me
and listen to the concert
I almost missed.


Susan Taylor Brown is a full-time dreamer, poet, author of children’s books, and mixed-media artist. She teaches poetry workshops to incarcerated teens and enjoys helping others find their courage to create.

“Writing has always been my way of making sense of the world. Though my writing takes many forms – novels, poems or essays – one thread runs through it all, I strive for emotional honestly because I know it is the universal truths of our unique stories that connect us all.”

Visit her website: susantaylorbrown.com or blog susanwrites.livejournal.com

One thought on “Proof of Life

  1. The scene in the garden with the dog is luscious with imagery and palpable with living. That is what exactly what this poem is about, isn’t it? It’s that momentary, mindful living that keeps us grounded and sane. Yes, bermuda grass, dog, dogwood, and goldfinches are not as exciting or sexy as climbing mountains or vanquishing dragons, but more often than not, it is all we have. Thank you, Susan, you, Zen master, you!

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