Thursday, June 13, 2013

Elizabeth Carlson: "Imperfection"

I am falling in love
      with my imperfections
The way I never get the sink really clean,
forget to check my oil,
lose my car in parking lots,
miss appointments I have written down,
am just a little late.
I am learning to love
      the small bumps on my face
      the big bump of my nose,
      my hairless scalp,
chipped nail polish,
toes that overlap.
Learning to love
      the open-ended mystery
            of not knowing why
I am learning to fail
      to make lists,
      use my time wisely,
      read the books I should.
Instead I practice inconsistency,
      irrationality, forgetfulness.
Probably I should
hang my clothes neatly in the closet
all the shirts together, then the pants,
send Christmas cards, or better yet
a letter telling of
      my perfect family.
But I'd rather waste time
listening to the rain,
or lying underneath my cat
     learning to purr.
I used to fill every moment
     with something I could
          cross off later.
Perfect was
     the laundry done and folded
     all my papers graded
     the whole truth and nothing      but
Now the empty mind is what I seek
      the formless shape
      the strange      off center
      sometimes fictional

"Imperfection" by Elizabeth Carlson, from Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach, edited by Sam M. Intrator, et al. © Jossey-Bass, 2003.

Image credit: Unknown (originally color).



  1. This is a beautiful poem...used for my retreat. Thank you! Pax!

    1. You're very welcome. Glad you put it to good use!

      Want to tell you that "A Year of Being Here" has led to the creation of a print anthology. "Poetry of Presence," co-edited by myself and Ruby R. Wilson, will be published by Grayson Books in late summer. If you're interested, please visit

      Deep peace,


Thank you for participating respectfully in this blog's community of readers.