container of care

My Modern Met

Plant a seed, this springtime. Hold it in your hand, and envision a world in which we live in balance with nature, at peace with one another, where creativity and love can flourish. Place your seed in the earth. Water and tend it as you tend those qualities and take those actions which can bring that world to birth.
–  Starhawk

We are all of us all the time coming together and falling apart. The point is, we are not rocks.
Who wants to be one anyway, impermeable, unchanging, our history already played out.
 –John Rosenthal

In our writing group, each week is an act of continuous tending. We come together to write and attend to a delicate ecosystem of words, writing, and agreements. If we do not hold to agreements, we can’t share our words. If we do not share our words, there is not point to the agreements. In this week’s group, I found myself saying again and again, “This is where our listening is as important as our speaking.”

And this is always true. Throughout group, there is no moment where listening is not fundamentally important – it is what allows us to write and hear one another, to share and be understood. The hope is that each of us use this as a model as we continue out into our lives. In the poems below, you will read what we heard and bore witness to, how the strength and consistency of our listening and the container created by our group leads to powerful writing, to power discovered in writing.


At times, we forget how much
we are really capable of dealing with.
We are taught as we grow to multiply fast,
hold our lives together: work, school, kids,
partner, house, set…
but are we doing the best we can
with all these things?
Are we giving it our all?
Or are we just getting by
at the end of the day?
We ask ourselves if we did okay
open our hand and ask for the strength
to get through it again tomorrow.



A hand turned upwards holds…

the life lines that linked me to my
mother’s womb, embraced my welcoming
into the unknown world, held tightly
on to my mother’s finger as she searches
for 10 fingers and 10 toes.

A hand turned upward held many
possibilities, opportunities only known
because I had to physically touch the gifts
given to me.

A hand turned up is a hand ready
to receive, a final exhale and moments
of impact are remembered and
the memory cherished.

A hand holds comfort, it searches
for love and it sheds the path of what
was old and welcomes the new.

A hand is steady, and strong, endures
pain remembers what’s familiar and
sometimes hesitant to change.



I would just describe her as an extraordinary yet ordinary woman.

Mama mama, you’re a star, a damn star.
Mama, remember when I lived in my car?
When I took the street shit too far?
How you always allowed me to come home?
You never gave up. You just loved me so hard.
Mama mama.
You’re the realist; I was always on the corners
making those deals, had to call collect
and you let me have it, always told me how you feel
and still do, although we shared many tears
and fears – the most common one was one
of us dying from our addiction, Mama.
You always prayed, I wouldn’t get killed.
My mama-my mama, you’re my world.
You taught me how to win and not be a loser.
I know I used to tell you, “I hate you,”
but really, I’d hate to lose you.
Mama mama, I know I’m incarcerated,
missing Mother’s Day. I’m sorry Ma,
but I’ll be alright. I really tried mama I still am.
Now that I’m older I regret making you,
all the times, I lied didn’t help none.
Mama your baby boy loves you.
You have a beautiful soul, Ma.

Mama, mama, you’re my lady.
You’re the realest. I love you, Mama.




My whole life I’ve been hidden
in institutions. In my mind,
I have always been trapped.
Locked away is where I find myself
with no possibility for change.
Every day, I put on a facade:
A pretty face, a huge heart
but beneath the surface
I’m falling apart, caught up
in the toxic life.
I’m looking for an exit only
finding dead ends.
But here’s a daily dose of brutal honesty:
Despair is not a strategy.
At times, I forget how much
I am really capable of dealing with.
A hand held upwards holds
what needs to heal.
Sometimes it comes to a rare moment,
one good fight. Other times,
we open our hands and ask
for the strength
to get through it again tomorrow.
A hand upturned is a hand
ready to receive.
I build my life better.
I never give up.
I carry on, a white fox,
a one-eyed race horse.
My power’s got no limits.


illustrated terrarium

caring for the container

illustrated terrarium


“Remember a women’s circle is not perfect…but if it holds its center when troubles arise and there is wisdom, love, honesty and room for making mistakes, the circle is more than “good enough.” It is a creative work in progress.”  ~ Jean Shinoda Bolen, The Millionth Circle

In Parker Palmer’s most recent book, Healing the Heart of Democracy, Parker lifts up five “habits of the heart” which he says are critical to the health of our democracy: an understanding that we are all in this together, an appreciation of the value of “otherness,” an ability to hold tension in life-giving ways, sense of personal voice and agency, and a capacity to create community.

Care of the Container is a practice in which we take the time to intentionally reflect on the gifts and challenges our class. This is a time to release both the joys and the tensions we might be holding in, as well as an opportunity to participate in the ongoing co-creation of our class.

When we conduct a care of container, we remind ourselves what we bring to each other in the circle. We come to recognize that our greatest contribution to one another is two-fold, is both/and. That is the act of listening/speaking. We offer our voices in communion and in silence to support the voices of other writers. In essence, to listen is not the opposite of speaking but rather a manner of speaking that communicates: I hear you. You matter. Actually, in any given group, the majority of our time is spent listening.

As we worked through care of container, we split into three small groups to write the following found poems. We used the lines we wrote in the session and shuffled them to create new pieces that convey what exactly the group means to us and what we bring to each circle as equal and vital participants.

Help Her Find Her Way: It’s a Process of Discovery

We come with confidence to expand our horizons and remember
who we are. Let our souls speak without the risk of judgment.
Our inner thoughts, the puzzle pieces within life, matter.
Here we can empty the week’s pain from our souls
and write our way forward with determination. Here,
we escape our walls, take others places we go in our heads.
We bring all our words and memories; some things can’t be forgotten.
We can tell you life is messy and not get lost.
Within the safety of the group, we figure out something other than dark. Sometimes, that’s all we really need – to be heard and seen
through another’s eyes, neither disrespected nor dismissed.
We still have a voice to be heard.

We are in a continuum of history. Continue reading