A poem written 9/5/9

Remodeling as a Transformative Device

(Better than Illness)

Every summer for a long time,
or often anyway,
illness has caught me—
serious enough to warrant
immediate concern
life-threatening even.

And all time was then divided
into before the diagnosis
and after it, life wiped
away as I had known it,
what had seemed important
became less than trivial.

Amnesia set in
about how things had been
and I couldn’t get back
to “normal.”
The process of healing
took the time it took

and the lessons came
and some stuck;.
some left until
the next time.
And on and on it went
with help coming at key moments.

I learned how to ask and receive.
I learned how to balance in chaos.
How to laugh at darkness.
How to let myself feel
and even cry in the presence of others.
And I wrote it all down:

the insights, the quest, the stories
that seemed to give meaning
to suffering, to healing.
Was there no other way
to transformation than
ripping off my skin

again and again?
Then, this summer:
remodeling—Let everything be different
than it had been. Let clutter
be cleared, past failures forgiven,
all belongings spread out,
nothing where it had been.

Ask: If I were moving,
would I keep this?
And as dusty carpet went out
and clean wood floors went in,
light came too, gleaming.
Kitchen cabinets refaced in rich cherry,

Santa Cecelia (patron saint of creativity)
and the name of our chosen granite from Brazil.
All that was worn and shabby
made new again.
Moving on without moving away.
Color, space, clean air,

promise, possibility, openness.
We can’t find our way back
to what was…
even it we wanted to.
Old habits are breaking
like how high to reach to answer the phone

or where to locate a pair of scissors or stamp or fork,
nothing is where it was,
all part of the 17 or 39 or whatever number
of changes in the environment to sustain
healing changes in me.

And the rest of the family?
Well, they are in the thick and thin of it too.
If they can be nourished
by all this,
if they can learn to function
without the usual foundation,

if they can be surrounded by and
immersed in energy for where they are going…
all the better.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
Copyright 2009

From the Sky–Journey to New Mexico

For some reason, I cannot copy-paste text from a Word document into this blog (though that is what I did for the first 21 posts!). This makes it harder to put my poems here–tough to re-write everything. “It” will allow me to insert photos (thus the previous mask photos from a mask-making workshop at my first International Women’s Writing Guild conference at Skidmore College–and yes, that is my face).

So here are some pics from a trip to New Mexico last week. This combined business and vacation for my husband, but in my life there are no boundaries between “work” and “the rest.” I can write and take photos anywhere and to a high degree I am my healed self everywhere I go. It all flows together. The good thing is that I am enriched by it all. The hard thing is that with no boundaries it can be easy to get over-stimulated and over-extended, with insufficient rest.

These are two photos from the plane. (I always try to get a window seat.) On this trip I was struck by the awesome variety of clouds, some of which moved in fast layers over the others or some seemed to be planted in rows like seeds in a furrow or might part to reveal patterns on the earth below. More to come.

May Reflection and New Poem

It has been a super-busy May: my birthday, travel to Michigan to see our families on Mother’s Day weekend, our daughter’s college graduation, and our 35th wedding anniversary. I read recent poems at a spirituality group and facilitated a world peace meditation with them. I was (unexpectedly) asked to be on a local cable TV show on using poetry for healing and comfort. What fun! I had three colds (unusual) and I continued doing deep healing work with a goal of being more consistently healthy, with more peace, calm and clarity in my life. I learned a new breathing technique which I practiced daily.

As the month went on, I had thoughts and poems I wanted to post, but the time passed. I did put my name and copyright on all my blog photos and replaced all the unmarked ones.

This recent poem was written as part of my healing work. It was inspired by talking with my friend, Geary Davis, who moderates a spiritual gathering every Thursday evening.


Put Down the Sword of Self-wounding

(after talking to Geary about a ritual to ease pain)

Put down the sword
of self-destruction
and self-immolation,

of self-defeat, self-demolition,
and self-defacing. Stop
stabbing myself in the vulnerable gut

in remorse, guilt, grief, and regret
at what I could not
control or plan or shape.

Melt that sword
into the ploughshare
that carves the furrows

into which I place
the seeds I have been holding back.
Let forgiveness

flood the field,
let love shine upon them,
let the earth be fertile and loam-rich,

and bountiful harvest my just reward.
After all the lifetimes
of all the dark and light alike

let my new life
result from a conscious new choice:
to put down the sword.

No more self-blame
self-criticism or self-judging,
no more crimson shame,

no more self-harsh words,
no more self-unkindness,
no more self-disrespect,

or screaming at myself
at perceived imperfections
or unbearable failings.

Only forgiveness
to the bone of things
to the bottom and top of memory,

forgiveness heaped
on forgiveness, eaten
at a great feast of forgiveness.

And when sated,
love as dessert and
as the main course ever after.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2009

Note: definition of immolate
1) To kill as a sacrifice
2) To kill (oneself) by fire
3) To destroy
The American Heritage Dictionary, 3rd edition, 1992


The radio was on in the background as we were having Sunday breakfast and reading the newspaper. It was a program of classical music from South America, one piece from each country. The conductor came on before each one to introduce the music. Before one of the pieces he said something like: the composer’s wife and child had been in a head-on collision and the composer named this composition for her. I believe he also said that they had survived. It got me thinking about the preciousness of time. And how we don’t choose how much time we have we have with those we love. And this poem popped out. I was thinking of my husband, but it really applies to everyone I encounter.


Inspired by Something
Partly Heard on the Radio

I do not know
how much time
I have with you.

I read the stories
or avoid reading them
of all the sad, tragic

things that happen
and tears run down my face
in sympathy, in empathy

whether I would stop them
or not. I know this dark place.
But yet, I do not

want to know the limits
of the hours, the minutes
I have with you.

What good would that do?
Just to be here
where you are

for as long
as there is…
and be grateful.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2009