Gifts Come in Every Noise and Every Skin

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes.  They come in every noise and every skin.  They come with wine and they come with water.  They come in black and white and technicolor sunshine when you’re blind with sleep.  They wear the morning; words like dew on bitter tongue.  You can’t know what packages they will come in or what spice they will wear when they cross state borders and choppy oceans to reach you, battered and disfigured with the mystery of abuse.  They come saturated with the minutiae of love for you to open and be amazed.

Connectivity is a contradiction between a delicate reaching of mind and sweaty hands, grabbing dirty hands.  It is an endless chain of creation a million hands are grabbing and holding fast to through hurricane and mudslide.  A rope that chafes while it protects.  Connection ignites the the pile of tinder built in the center of our chests.  Connection is matter turning into other matter.  It’s a gift.  What connects is more than voice or note or convenience or weather or place or race or money or language.  What connects us also eludes us constantly.

The best you can ask of yourself is to offer pine-cones when they’re the most beautiful and available objects within reach.  The best you can ask of yourself is to see every object, every light, every voice, every rock, every thorn as a potential gift.  Sometimes for yourself when you’re crimped between the brambles and the quack-grass with the desperate tears of loss.  Sometimes for friends who’ve blossomed in the light of your happiness and broken under the weight of their own sorrow.  There is sugar in tiny mosses and twigs, fairies dreaming something to replace the tears.  And the gifts for strangers may seem the most impossible but it will come to you without thought or heavy head how to give the milky waxy gardenia in your hair to the rent boy passing you, seemingly impervious.

No one is truly impervious who has skin.

Perhaps fortune is thin on the ground these days.  Jobs are scarce.  Money is mean.  no one can afford to lose an inch but we’re all losing miles every minute anyway.  Still, there is something to wait for, something to wake for, something to drink for every single day.  There are always gifts, naked to expectation.  There are always gifts, climbing the graffiti up through the chain-link to open air.  There are always gifts, no matter how they’re wrapped or torn or broken or bruised or flecked or stamped or canceled.

Will you recognize them from your dampened morning pillow?  Will you see them from your window, looking up at you from the alley full of prostitutes and syringes?  Will you accept them with your grace, in any condition, and be thankful to have them at all?



  1. Allison says:

    Oh I have been gone from your words too long…this post strikes a very sensitive chord in my heart, and I am very thankful for this gift you’ve shared. Just beginning to emerge from a slow and dark time of unexpected grief after the loss of a magnificent man – he believed in gifts just as you describe them, and lived his life with the kind of openness and generosity that made every small moment something to be treasured. At the memorial, this was the very positive (if tear-streaked) message shared with the hundreds who attended, and your words here crystallize for me just how deeply even the smallest connections and most understated gifts can change our lives every day.

  2. angelina says:

    You didn’t lose your partner, did you? I’m so sorry that you’ve been going through such a dark time!! But I’m glad you’re beginning to come out of it and that this post struck a chord in you. This picture inspired my thoughts on gifts- it’s a friend’s sweet toddler daughter and as I was getting the tour of recent developments in my friend’s garden her daughter kept bringing me little things like pine cones and rocks and pieces of concrete and it reminded me of this kitten my mom found on the side of the road who was tiny and starving and half dead. We brought her back to health and my mom named her Chloe. When she got bigger she would bring me little gifts every single day and it was so simple, and so sweet a gesture. She would bring me mostly half rotted things like chunks of redwood mulch, earthworms she’d caught, mangled salamanders, twigs. I think she was thanking me for feeding her and caring for her and it was the most charming thing in the world, to see her bring these wretched things in and drop them at my feet and meow until I took proper notice. I wanted to keep her but our cat Ozark (who’s dead now) was a one cat guy and was really mean to her. But between my friend’s daughter and Chloe the cat I have come to see that these tiny things, things that are just fragments of nature, found all around us are gorgeous offerings, things that make our environment rich.

    So I have to remind myself that gifts are all around us and people sometimes give me little gifts and I need to be sure to acknowledge them. Smiles, little words, an extra bunch of herbs thrown in my farmer’s market buy for free, rocks my son brings me, the rain that waters the seeds I just planted so I don’t have to. They’re everywhere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.