When Joy Comes
Arrives as gallant as a prince, all white steed and swagger.
When it comes laughing, reaches for you like a child playing tag,
soars blue bird bright across the rabbit grey sky.
When joy comes, stumbles into you like a lost friend,
don’t walk the other way because you can’t stop remembering you owe her a cup of sugar. Joy understands.
Tumbles towards you still,
end over end pulling you into a summersault of grass, and sky and sun.
Because joy doesn’t wait until everything stops spinning to find you.
It comes to hold you as you roll, be your focal point so you can regain your balance. It comes to whisper in your ear,
steady steady steady.
When joy knocks, don’t hide behind the door, even if your hair isn’t done,
and you aren’t showered and your socks are mismatched.
Invite her in. Take her coat. Offer her some cocoa, or a crumpet, or a smile,
and let joy breath.
Don’t panic that she’s finally there, sitting in your living room like the Queen Mother. Act normal.
Resist the temptation to cling to her like a drowning child,
let her bob on the surface, float alongside her, knowing you can kick your own legs to keep from drowning.
When joy comes.
When it comes, at last, after an intolerable night wrung dry of tears.
When weeping has endured and endured and endured,
sorrow snaking around you like an anaconda, squeezing out every last drop of light, and breath and reason.
When it comes then, saunters towards you like cocky sailor.
All swagger and sass.
Don’t just assume joy is looking at the girl on the stool next to you;
Don’t believe that hollow voice that whispers, you don’t deserve joy.
Because you do. Yes, even you.
You sitting there in your tired dress, without gloves or purse or script,
sitting there knowing the bright lipstick you applied that morning,
is blotted and worn and used.
Joy wants you even if you aren’t freshly pressed, perfectly coifed, or sporting a
thousand watt smile.
Joy wants you even with red rimmed, puffy eyes and a snotty nosed,
blubbering like a toddler who needs a nap,
joy is waiting, wants to nuzzle you like a lost lamb.
So don’t believe the story you are making up in your head,
The one that reads you are not enough.
That joy only wants you when you are finished being compressed, shrunken, transformed from the midnight-hard black of coal, into a sparkling diamond.
Joy wants you as you are; gritty, stained, impossibly dense.
Grace is waiting to embrace you when you let go of should or could or would.
And I think you’ll be surprised when you do, that your heart still beats in the same pattern; valves closing and opening like a stone rolling back,
a vault undone, a safe sprung.
When joy comes, rises next to you like a bright balloon, don’t be daft!
Jump for it! Pull it towards you, double knot it to your wrist, and don’t let go.
And even though
you’re scared that joy will pop, or unexpectedly float away, grab it anyway.
And if it does slip like a ribbon through your fingers,
don’t be afraid to look at it while it rises, a bright ruby in a sea of blue.
Look at it so you can remember how it felt to hold the color of hope.