Tuesday, December 28, 2010

habit






.
The shoes put on each time
left first, then right.
.
The morning potion’s teaspoon
of sweetness stirred always
for seven circlings—no fewer, no more—
into the cracked blue cup.
.
Touching the pocket for wallet,
for keys,
before closing the door.
.
How did we come
to believe these small rituals’ promise,
that we are today the selves we yesterday knew,
tomorrow will be?
.
How intimate and unthinking,
the way the toothbrush is shaken dry after use,
the part we wash first in the bath.
.
Which habits we learned from others
and which are ours alone we may never know.
Unbearable to acknowledge
how much they are themselves our fated life.
.
Open the traveling suitcase—
.
There the beloved red sweater,
bright tangle of necklace, earrings of amber.
Each confirming: I chose these, I.
.
But habit is different: it chooses.
And we, its good horse,
opening our mouths at even the sight of the bit.
.
~ Jane Hirshfield
from Given Sugar, Given Salt
.

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