I practice dying every night


My strength comes in the morning. The early hours wake me at sunrise, smelling of promise and first light. I listen to their bright voices and learn what it means to be born and how to unspool the day from the spinning earth. They carry bird songs in their pockets. Morning is the time for listening. I reach into my heart for crumbs of dreams I’ve carried, toss them at my feet, and wait for the words to land, to eat. Sometimes I hold a word with feathers in my hand and let the tears roll down. It is morning. My strength comes in the morning.


The day is for duty. Small hands point and I must follow. Time schools me, teaches me to climb, move, sit, walk, listen, speak, hurry, wait, and serve. I eat sunlight and grow wings. I cannot fly, but they lighten my load. Duty has a face I love, she never tires, and helps me when I climb. The hours are full of people; we follow time together. Sometimes I rest and wash my feet in their laughter. I give my strength to the day. The day is for duty.


The night is for dying. The words leave me and I watch them rise and go, swallowed by the sky. Sorrow, my sweet sister, whispers in my ear that the time of rest is near. Memories and desires take their leave, sail across the pool of thought till only ripples of their passage remain. I listen to the silence, wrap myself in quiet. The time of letting go has come. My heart steps softly into the dark. I close my eyes, my hands open, releasing every face, dream, and hope I gripped so long, yielding to that other world until I am gone. The night is for dying.


I practice dying every night.


61 thoughts on “I practice dying every night

  1. Yearstricken, one of the things I love about your prose poem is that, once again, I am getting the opportunity to see the full range of your voice– which is immense. Your abilities thrill me.

    The other thing I love about this piece is how well it captures the sensation of going through one’s day when night is the least favorite moment (and I can relate to that, seriously).

    It reminds me, in the best way, of a famous poem I read in workshop years ago about insomnia, in which the poet talked about “dying over and over in her bed.” I haven’t been able to find that poem, or that poet, anywhere, so thank you for providing me with an elegant replacement. This is gorgeous, just gorgeous.

    • Courtenay, it always make me happy to hear that you like something I write. And using the word poem when you talk about my writing thrills my heart the most. Failed poets are like that.

      • What?!? In my book, this piece qualifies as the textbook-definition of prose poem!

        Your voice is so naturally poetic that I will make sure that I mention this more often. (Seriously!)

        Speaking of which, I have been wanting to ask you, would you consider doing a pillow book list in four weeks on Bluebird Blvd.? (Because I do think of you as a poet, and I’ve been dying to ask you….) (No pressure, no obligation, by the way– not trying to put you on the spot here, I promise.)

  2. Life Student

    Oooh! Such beauty and peace as you approach the night is a balm for the thought of the rest that is coming to all of us. Thank you.

  3. This is breathtakingly beautiful, a soulful meditation that makes time slow down and all of the sense engage fully. Your astonishing gifts have taken flight once again, my dearest. Thank you for sharing them.

  4. Yearstricken, if you collected all your words in a book, I would so buy it. It would share the shelf with another of my favorites, The Prophet, and I would pull it down when in need of inspiration, understanding or just a plain old laugh. Your way with words is awesome.

  5. My, what a lovely metaphor of dream crumbs and words. I agree with an above comment, tender is the perfect word to describe this particular post. At least when death really comes for you, you’ll be so prepared and used to it! How lucky for you :>! Ah, you sound so at peace with yourself. I hope that you are!

  6. I had to wait a few days before I could read this. I was worried it might cut too close to the bone, and of course, I was right. I always am. Too close to the bone, I mean. Not right.

    I’m guessing that as a teacher, and as a writer, and as a comedian, and as a poet, there are some things you’ve written that you can’t help loving half to death. You go back and read the words, and every time you read them, they sparkle a bit brighter, or seem so perfectly placed upon the page. You wonder where they came from, and how the words were smart enough to find you, especially within the chaos of an ordinary life.

    This one is one of those ones you should probably print out. In fact, maybe even cut and paste it into something with a beautiful border. Something that carries the colors that soothe your soul. Something that makes your heart sing. Print it out and keep it close, or hang it on your wall, and on those days when your words are skittering around or hiding under the bed, take the time to let your eyes be filled with wonder again. Hold it in your hands and read your words, and be filled with magic again. You know when you get it right.

    This one is so right that it’s almost too difficult to read.

    Which makes it one of my favorites. Hopefully, yours, too.

    You didn’t have to share this one, but you did. All I can say is thank you.

    I wonder if you know what you’ve done? You broke it wide open. Yes, you did.

    • Thank you so much for the encouragement. I do believe that the words come when they are ready, like shy ponies. There’s no use trying to lasso them; you have to be patient, offer a little sugar, and coax them a bit. Like all gifts, they are given, not necessarily deserved. Every day that I can write, I’m grateful.

      I’m so happy that you liked it and that it spoke to you. It is still too new for me to read again.

      • People practice writing for years and years and never manage to find words that carry this much power … what makes your words especially filled with unshakable strength is that they are written gently, and flow easily from one place to the next.

        Don’t be surprised, when you publish your book, if this piece is the cornerstone around which the rest of the book blooms. There is a lot of YOU in this writing, and that is why it works so beautifully on the page. You could have hidden it away, but instead, you allowed it the space to breathe. Brave girl. Bravo.

        Did I mention I’m a fan of how you write? 🙂

  7. How beautiful is this….every day i live to the fullest and every night i die to be reborn the next day
    The sparkle and power of every word here leave me speechless and mesmerised
    Have a wonderful weekend
    Hugs 🙂

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