Ruth Baumann

2021, Poetry

SURVIVAL TECHNIQUES

Knocked off the feet I carved to replace the first feet I was knocked off.
Really. That kind of a year. That kind of a life, the subtitles to my
imaginary movie reading, over & over, Why do you forget that it’s all
surprises.
Some people preach external hope but they aren’t the ones
I can listen well to. One says, The surest way to go insane is to expect life to not hurt
& I build tiny temples in my ears. I notice how bad I am at exhaling,
& a fortune cookie tells me, If you don’t have talent, put in effort. I think
maybe the promised land is just being the kind of person I can look back on
& not wholly regret. A friend explains the parable of how people are like
an endless procession of candles. The trick is that we are not the wax,
but the fire. So I pray: let me tend my fire. So I pray: let me tend my fire.


THE REAL GOAL

On the mornings without too much sunlight, I listen for the rocking horse in my heart. I am borne from a flurry & I respect that. But: there’s a place where the soul grows still as a windless summer pond. I always think it has to do with men but it doesn’t. If I ask nicely enough, I’ll listen to myself, & begin the sweet climb from breath to slower breath.


Ruth Baumann is the author of Thornwork (2020, Black Lawrence Press) & Parse (2018, Black Lawrence Press). She is also the author of five chapbooks. She teaches in prisons. More can be found here.