On Being Gathering, 2018
A conversation can be a contest,
or a game of catch with invisible balloons.
They bounce between us, growing and shrinking,
sometimes floating like cloud medicine balls,
and sometimes bowling at us like round anvils.
You toss a phrase and understanding blooms
like an anemone of colored lights.
My mind fireworks with unasked questions.
Who is this miracle speaking to me?
And who is this miracle listening?
What amazingness are we creating?
Out of gray matter a star spark of thought
leaps between synapses into the air,
and pours through gray matter, into my heart:
how can I not listen generously?
“Generous Listening” by Marilyn Nelson read live at the 2018 On Being Gathering. Used with the permission of the poet.
Listen to Marilyn Nelson’s On Being interview, “Communal Pondering in a Noisy World.”