I Don’t Know (But I Really Do)

By Carolyn Riker

I don’t know why it happens
but it does. Those days when
vertical feels extra heavy or that ache behind
shoulders descends and there’s nothing left
not even one small wing could flap, flutter or move.
I go plop-like. Pillow-like and horizontal mergers
with seaworthy barnacles and giant rocks touch
the jetties of my inner refuge.

I don’t know why I start shaking and pacing,
when Brash starts talking, or Superficial
becomes jarringly Arrogant and Prestige presses
into Dominate. All those letters after their name
become a line of Z-z-z-z-z-z-s; I must
put them down for a nap. I’m exhausted.

I don’t know why I notice, when a table
is round and the plates are square. Or stirring
clockwise feels gentle but side to side
emphasizes the clink, clink, clink. I worry the mug
hurts and feels incomplete. To help soften it all
I might start to sway, to a different beat.

I don’t know why I prefer the word
Bunny over Rabbit. Maybe it’s the full bubble
sound that bounces in my head; R sometimes
feels ragged and ribbits. But Bbbb-unny belongs
with the simplicity of a cottontail’s
blossoming roundness.

I don’t know why, when we go ‘round a circle,
person-to-person just to share who we are. I start to
wish, wish, wish this circle would stop, stop, stop. The room
goes dizzy for I am lost, lost, lost. I barely muster a squeak,
sputter and cough. But please know this is not the real me;
it takes time to define trust.

I don’t know why my insides hurt when I
hear someone chew
with mouth-opened-wide. I find
my sleeves want to hide my ears
(or shut their mouth) and I pretend
to close my eyes (out of respect) because predigested
chomping food needs quiet time too.

What I do know, is my heart expands
into a full body smile, when my
offspring says, ‘grab two spoons’
and ice-cream settles between. I know then
the conversation will be genuine; because
even ice-cream needs a friend.

What I do know, is ‘normal’ and sublime
lives on a continuum of unique. The number line
of infinity wraps a circle of hope; and endless
overtures speak.

I do know that wealth is the spirit
where our souls sing deep; next to
those mountains that just became islands
through a glacier of clouds and how windows
can reframe those days when we rain with our
inner runaway trains….

And maybe, just maybe all of this helps
to circle through the unevenness of our
I-don’t-know-whys and I-do-know
into something gentle and complete and true.

For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith.



  1. Tanya Markul

    You are such a delight. I love your way with words and how they line up right at the walls of my heart. XOXOXO

  2. Mark Lobat

    Your writing is powerful and meaningful, Carolyn!

  3. Fannie LeFlore

    Love this, Carolyn. I don’t know why…..then again, maybe because it reflects soul-speak, a kind of language that just resonates with something real, that which is authentic, lovely and unique rather than overly self-conscious.

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