The Way, by Mary Elyn Bahlert

If there was a path, I didn’t know it,
although I prayed for it to show itself, sometimes –
of course –
not knowing another way.
I took each step, afraid,
dead leaves crackling under me,
my heart, beating hard in my throat.
Sometimes I froze – did I stop too long? – I wonder now,
but I was alone, and sad, and so I needed to stop, sometimes.

If there was a path, the forest did not open its way for me,
as it has for others.
I was not given a map at birth, or a spoon, or even instructions
as to how to proceed.
I simply moved, because the years passed, and others moved:
I didn’t know what else to do.

I put one foot in front of the other and tried not to scream.
Sometimes, I held my breath, to hide the whimper in my throat.

I think of the others now.
Was the way easier for them? We don’t talk about it.
I think of the ones I left behind, images of me,
waving to them from the moving train, thinking I would see them again.
I did not.

Now you wonder why I gaze with sadness and delight at the trees,
the light flickering, days passing – so quickly,
why I think about those who are gone,
why I am grateful for my breath.

-Mary Elyn Bahlert, November 28, 2017




It’s magic:  the seasons change,
magic, how time – that mysterious substance – moves along,
one touch of light to the next.
And then: darkness.

Magic: the clouds waltz in the sky.
Sometimes, they float together, granting us grey.

It is magic, (is it not?):
life passes so quickly and we are lost in trying to understand,
to comprehend its passing. (We forget to shake our heads in wonder.)

Magic: how ordinary light burns the branches of a tree,
sets it ablaze,
and I, witness to it, am grateful.

Magic: moment to the next moment:
now – now – and now…

Mary Elyn Bahlert, 9/24/17, Oakland


“The poor you will always have with you…” – Jesus

My heart goes out to everyone whose life has been disrupted by the hurricanes.  My heart goes out to the poor, everywhere. And my heart hurts with the knowing that often, the poor are exploited, again and again, by the powers, those who hold power. In this, we who are privileged are complicit.

This sculpture, on the street in Dublin, Ireland, is a vivid and moving depiction of the Irish who fled their beloved land during the Potato Famine.

Brigit’s Garden

I’m in the garden waiting for Brigit

    As fall comes on.

She arrives, sighs from bending over,

     and smiles at the harvest sparkling up at her.

Wind drives itself through her – 

     through her heart –

          pain, at first,


               The long, long letting go…

                                             -Mary Elyn Bahlert, Connemara, August 31, 2017      


for his birth-day


Nothing like a bargain to make this guy happy:

two for the price of one!

His eyes shining, he snaps up extra boxes of cereal and jars of pickle relish   –                         how many will fit in the cart?

Hauls them home, proudly.

He’s like that with life, too –

can’t get enough of it,

as if it all came for free –

like me!