It could have been anything.
Any arrangement of words said or sent
could have done it.

It wasn’t the word “unabashed”
though in a later conversation,
it gave me pause —

How many things have I been abashed about?
What would make my top-ten abashed moments list?
Too many, and those that jump to the fore:

Crying during a routine gynecological exam.
Throwing up Korean barbecue at a bus stop.
Asking a non-pregnant person when the baby was due.
Walking in on my then-boyfriend with his hand up another girl’s shirt.
Exiting the house naked at a party with the expectation of skinny-dipping, and seeing everyone else in swimsuits. And them seeing me.
Wearing the wrong colors to a playoff game. Very wrong colors.
Thinking I was much better at sex than I was, and told so. In the midst.
Choking so hard on an oyster shot I sneezed cocktail sauce for a week.
Sending an obviously unwanted love letter.
Not sending an obviously wanted love letter.

In each of these,
I entered unabashed.
The way the heart opens a bid to the world
is not foolish;
it is the world’s counter-offer
that sucks it into the mire of context,
of taboo, of arbitrariness.

We can accept this counter-offer.
We can also smile with unfolding hands,
push away from the table,
and walk out singing.

— Halsted M. Bernard

5 thoughts on “unabashed

  1. :). Just 🙂

    I really love you can just take all these wonderful ideas and moments in life and just turn them into such wonderful writing.

    Just where was I when all *this* was happening? 😉


  2. I sure hope having to suddenly come up with a “list” isn’t an example of a counter offer! Although I’m pretty sure the swimming suit thing was a lot worse.


  3. This is really, really lovely. How often do you come across something emotionally stirring in a blog? Not often enough …


  4. Really fine poem. I’m awake in the middle of the night, trying to make sense of the suicide of a poet teacher of mine, Liam Rector, who took his own life a couple of days ago in NYC. His poetry lasts. Yours will too. And mine. All the lovely words. I had a dream about him the morning after he died, a vivid one, as if he were making a visitation. “This is the first beer I’ve had in 22 years,” I told him, looking at the glass of beer I’d nearly finished. There went 22 years of sobriety, so I woke up relieved it was only a dream, planning to e-mail him, because I knew he had a drinking problem. Several hours later, news of his death. WTF. I have no idea what it means to assert there are no coincidences, but I’m open to learning what this one might possibly mean. Encouragement to continue on in life, a day at a time, clutching AA’s beloved cliches as if hearing them for the very first time. Anyway, your poem gave me an opening, so thanks, and now I can return to bed for some more sleep.


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