The Space Between Us

Illustration by Elizabeth Moreno

This is the poem I wrote for my wedding. I spent months on it. And on Saturday I finally got to see it do its work in the world when we used it to open our wedding ceremony.

Elizabeth and I both wanted to stay away from talk of “becoming one” in our ceremony, with its implications of giving up individual selfhood. Instead we saw our relationship as creating a sacred space between our two selves—a space where we can meet each other, support each other, and cheer each other on as we each explore, learn, and grow deeper into ourselves.

Those themes, together with our love of river valleys and mountains—and the beautiful venue nestled at the base of the North Cascades—helped shape the final poem. And Elizabeth designed the lovely image you see above to carry those same themes visually.

The poem is called The Space Between Us:

Don’t try to give me
all of yourself—
as if you would, as if
the wilderness that bears your name
is yours to give.

Instead let’s live
like mountains: two worlds
rooted together but each
cutting our own shape
into the changing sky.

I’ll be the one to see you
radiant in the morning light,
and to watch as evening’s last glow
anoints your head.

I’ll be your companion
as the seasons paint you
green and gold and white
and green again.

And as the snows melt
and the rains fall,
carving ever deeper
the beautiful grooves of your being,
let them flow down into

the sacred space between us—
this quiet valley
our bodies make, where
deep waters
and the dark earth

take everything we’ve lost
and everything we’ve given
and make new life
for all who call this place


The First Promise

This is a poem of permission. A lot of people wish they could push pause for a little while, but they’re afraid to show any uncertainty about the life they’ve constructed for themselves. They’re afraid it would mean they’ve failed. That they’ll be forgotten. That they’ll disappear.

But if you don’t step back sometimes, chances are you’re neglecting some deeper, unheard part of you. And so what you’re giving to the world lacks the fullness that we need from you.

The truth is that hiding from the world is one of the central competencies of being alive. Every animal knows how. Every plant can bury its aliveness in the earth. You knew, at some point.

This poem is permission to remember, and to discover what might be waiting for you there. It’s called:

The First Promise

Sometimes you need to hide
from everything
you’ve promised to become,
so you can find the first promise—
the one you and the soft world
sang to each other

down beneath the tall bushes
along the old streambed,
when nobody knew
exactly where you were,
back before the person
everyone needed you to be
learned to find you even there.

Those bushes are gone now
but the sanctuary still waits—
in the quiet places under trees,
in the spacious darkness
of a solitary night—
and if you learn again
how to hide, even from

the expectations you’ve
mistaken for your own,
you’ll find that the world still knows
your secret harmony,
and that some brave and
brokenhearted voice in you
never stopped singing.


Permission to Lose Interest

Looking up through the windshield at
dark wings and a white head
crossing high above I-5. “Just a seagull,”

I hear myself say—permission to
lose interest, permission to close down
the aqueducts of wonder. How quickly

I abandon my enchantment, like it’s
a grenade about to bloom or a great eye
opening. Because really I know

that the shape of those wings
cutting against a blue sky
is a beauty sharp enough to cut me, too.

Photo from Eli Pastor on Unsplash

It’s in Everything

It’s in everything, this dancing
of something that’s more than just life.
Look at the trees near the shore,
how they shimmy and wave over
the bright face of the Salish Sea.

Meanwhile the waters rush in—
mad for the moon—and swirl around
the outstretched hand of the point,
kissing the forehead of the beach
before they rush back out again.

I have it on good authority
that the whole world spins and spins
as it falls toward the warm center of its love
and then swings back out again
to sing of it to the stars.

Stand still here among the trees
and the wind and the warm sun.
What dance stirs in the bones of you to join?
Let the music of the world find you.