Poetry: Untitled

This poem was written in 2003, when I was an adjunct instructor and clinic supervisor in the Massage Therapy program at the New York College of Health Professions on Long Island. The program was heavily based on Taoist principles and students were strongly encouraged to work on their personal development in order to be present and centered in every treatment they delivered. But these ideas sometimes met resistance. This poem speaks to such a moment.  


© MG Mandarino 2003



(for Neva)

How many stars can you count?

How many lives can you touch –

not with your hands, eagerly circling and diving

into points –

but with the stillness of your heart?

And how many lives might those lives touch?


Close your eyes.  Know who you are.

Sink deep into the earth.

Become the void, clear as pipe.

Be the vessel between heaven and earth.

“But I am not spiritual,” you lament.

My friend, leave such worries to bishops and popes.



Be present.

Let your hands melt

as you offer the fullness

of who you are,

of who you have become,

of who you are still becoming.


It is in the deepest moments

of stillness,

without even knowing,

that we touch

the face of God.


-Maria Grace Mandarino