Tuesday, January 20, 2015



by David Wagoner

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

I continue to be drawn to these little forests that one finds in the suburbs. They find me, I find them. The trees are not lost. What a comfort that is to me. 

The thought in the poem that I'm drawn to is wherever you are is here, wherever you are you must treat as a powerful stranger. You must be awake to that, here, now. 

I've begun the second round of edits on my novel which is coming out with Palimpsest Press this October 15, 2015. There will no doubt be a third round of edits as well, but it feels as though with this edit, we will be extremely close to the finished product. You might remember that in the last round of edits, the title of the novel became, What We Carry. Which I quite liked. But then I googled it and found another book with the same title. This would have been fine, though at the same time the duplication made me feel uncomfortable. As luck would have it, my brilliant editor had continued to mull over titles and suggested another one: Rumi and the Red Handbag.

As soon as I heard it, I thought: YES. That's the one.

Well. The Wagoner poem reminds me of lines from Rumi, which I'll close with:

"The mystery does not get clearer by repeating the question,
nor is it bought with going to amazing places.

Until you've kept your eyes

and your wanting still for fifty years,
you don't begin to cross over from confusion."

{from The Essential Rumi, translator Coleman Barks}


  1. How I needed this post today! Can't say how happy it makes me, what relief to read those dear lines from Rumi and to think of you and your lovely book, collaborating with one another. Rumi and the Red Handbag revealing itself to you. Bless you, Shawna.

    1. I think I needed your comment today, dear Barb. Thank you lovely friend.

  2. Lovely poem, one I never would have found if it wasn't for you. xo


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