1010: Self-care Bucket List

1010: Self-care Bucket List

1010: Self-care Bucket List


I’m Major Jackson and this is The Slowdown.

I don’t have a bucket list. Why? Maybe because I fear that my desired experiences might sound too…run-of-the-mill, or, overly exotic. For example, I want to hike the Appalachian trail, take a sailing trip around Chile’s Cape Horn, attend the Met Gala and its afterparty, and if I can muster the courage, to take a bite of a poisonous pufferfish, prepared by a specially licensed chef, then pray I do not die. See what I mean?

Truth is, I dislike the checklist approach to life, the “one-and-done,” so — on to the next thing. In my life, I have walked the Great Wall of China, toured the Massai Mara in Kenya, visited with and listened to children in a refugee camp, and edited the annual anthology, Best American Poetry — all illuminating and joyful accomplishments. But, I would never place them on a record of conquered aspirations. I sought these and other experiences spontaneously, out of my own values, which themselves reflect an ardent commitment to life — in its beauty, and its pain, and its awe.

Bucket lists orient people toward the future, true. They can sweep one ahead into a momentum of deserved recognition. Yet, how powerful to live without the aid, or, the loom, of an imagined inventory of milestones.

Today’s poem questions the efficacy of trendy “must do’s” and how one can end up chasing solutions that are not solutions.

Self-care Bucket List
by Nancy K. Pearson

I tried deep breathing,
counting 20 inhalations
from the diaphragmic, dome-shaped muscle
& everything cracked inside me. a bird’s shell
is formed after nineteen hours so 
I gave up trying. I tried hugging pillows,
squeezed a feather pillow so hard
barbs & shafts, ligaments, bones,
dimpled skin, even blood
sang out to me. at least 6-feet-deep
is how you have to bury your dead
livestock & at least 100-feet from a stream
so I walked the stream
now fattened with ice-lace,
holly-red-liquor-red soap berries,
dots of pure unmixed color
almost like a Seurat,
dead at 31. tried pinching
my arm real hard (fuck that)
& my skin bud a deep blue phlox. bathed in lavender
and rose-hips but a flower serves as symbol
for just about anything so wtf (benzos).
sang & opened my mouth
black & wide for the sky 
snowing feathers, shut it tight
because cheap gold-fillings. read my
palms, a single crease—
my head’s gone. 
imagined vacation, imagined travel 
but drove frontage roads all named 
Frontage Road all year long.
found an open field
but its pollen tassels and junctures of sweet corn tillers
were carved out. counted stars 
on the storm-glass, ethanol, camphor
the nitrates forecasting 
snow tonight. lit blue-yellow glass soaked in propane,
hot quartz, metal oxide, dense vapor.
folded myself into a collection of leaves
leaking champagne chlorophyll 
on a page in my journal. sleepless
I cast a swallow-netting to stop 
falling. I tried everything
to reach me, sent myself
emojis, Liked myself.
in the bathroom 
a bleeding Post-It note
stuck to my spit
on the mirror—
what were the words?

"Self-care Bucket List" by Nancy K. Pearson. Used by permission of the poet.