Steward’s Song

gabbys awesomest“Tend the garden,” He said.
But did He really say?
What is the garden?
Who is my neighbor?

This garden infested
with dangers, toils and snares,
sorrow and misery,
pestilence and disease.

This garden cannot be
what He intends us to tend.
What is the garden?
Who is my neighbor?

This world is not my home;
We’re all just passing through.

These words we’ll sing
to cover the crying
decaying and dying
in the untended garden.


(Photo Credit: Gabrielle Allman)

Forest Paths


Forest Paths

Every day
I cut my path through the forest.
Some days
I cut miles and miles of new terrain,
and others
I barely make it a foot.
But I have a good compass,
and I’ll come to whatever glades and hills,
rocks and water,
highlands and lowlands
that my path is meant to cross.

There are others
who’ve cut great highways,
deep muddy ruts
scarring the once-green earth,
traveled by pilgrims
who were meant to cut their own paths,
but didn’t,
meant to follow their own compasses,
but didn’t.
They were fearful.
They were pious.

the great rut-makers
and rut-walkers
scorn my simple path
because it is not safe,
not logical,
and definitely not well-traveled.
They cannot see
that their own road
is wider and deeper and more twisting
than it was ever meant to be.

They have forgotten their compasses,
in favor of what was once a good direction
for one
or a few.
And now they think
it is the only good way.
They cannot understand
the thrill of the wilderness,
the beauty of pain,
and the joy of the small voice
when you’ve got a good compass.


There are worlds 

We know nothing about, 

and we pass them

and step on them

and make grand judgements.

But until we shrink ourselves

and stretch ourselves

into those worlds,

we will never realize 

how real they are. 

They will only ever be

imaginary lands

we argue about. 

And we will only ever be


Springtime Travel

Time seems thinner in the spring.
I mean, each year is a layer
and usually the layers are too thick,
too heavy to push aside and revisit.
But in the springtime —
in the euphoria of sunshine
every past soul has seen,
of a fresh breeze
every past soul has smelt,
of tender sprouts
every past soul has touched
— the layers begin to melt a little,
run together, overlap,
and I enjoy the season in solidarity
with every other generation.
We smile and walk down dusty lanes
together in the rediscovered sunlight.


I woke in a stupor. I’d been trying to stay awake.
There he was, dressing in the light of a single lamp,
long tee shirt and pajama pants.

“I need – ” I began. My brain was warm wax. “I need –
” – my Spanish, no –
” – my clothes, no –
“my – tea tree…”

I stopped. He laughed at me. I laughed too.
I’d been trying to say “phone”.
The word was in my head,
but every time I tried to say it
another took its place.

He got in and we settled under the blankets.
“Phone,” I said.
We kissed
and fell asleep.

Thick Skin

“You need thick skin to survive in this world.”

“What if I don’t have it?”

“You’ll have to grow it.”

“What if I can’t?”

“You’ll have to.”

“What if my skin is delicate, almost translucent? What if no matter how much I try, a bruise is always more painful, a wound always more deep? What if I always cry when someone shouts? What if I can’t help it?”

“You’ll have to learn to handle it.”

“What if every beauty is more dazzling, every joy more intense? What if every word carries immense weight and every glance tells a story? What if the sticks that build a house talk and soak in memories like sponges? Is there any good that can come of all that?”


“How do you know?”

“Because life doesn’t work that way.”

“Maybe it does! Maybe it’s meant to!”

“Calm down. You’re too sensitive. You need thick skin to survive in this world.”