What the Mind Wants

November 04, 2019

Photo by Illiya Vjestica on Unsplash

Guess what? There’s a special Catching Happiness milestone coming up this week. I normally post poems and quotes on Fridays, but since I plan to write a special post for Friday, I’m sharing this lovely poem today instead.

Introduction by Ted Kooser: Here's a poem by Holly J. Hughes, who lives and writes in Washington state, about finding joy in what's before us. I found it in Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, published by Grayson Books of West Hartford, CT. Ms. Hughes' most recent book of poetry is Hold Fast, (Empty Bowl Press, 2019).

Mind Wanting More

Only a beige slat of sun
above the horizon, like a shade
pulled not quite down. Otherwise,
clouds. Sea rippled here and
there. Birds reluctant to fly.
The mind wants a shaft of sun to
stir the grey porridge of clouds,
an osprey to stitch sea to sky
with its barred wings, some dramatic
music: a symphony, perhaps
a Chinese gong.

But the mind always
wants more than it has—
one more bright day of sun,
one more clear night in bed
with the moon; one more hour
to get the words right; one
more chance for the heart in hiding
to emerge from its thicket
in dried grasses—as if this quiet day
with its tentative light weren't enough,
as if joy weren't strewn all around.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2004 by Holly J. Hughes, “Mind Wanting More,” from Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, (Grayson Books, 2017). Poem reprinted by permission of Holly J. Hughes and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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