Samantha Libby


They come to me broken and bruised, torn to pieces and bleeding, and I love them. I heal them, I teach them, I love them. Then they grow a new skin. A thicker skin. A skin that keeps me further from the tender places they allowed me to touch and hold. A skin that protects them from the outside world, from themselves, and from me. I am no longer needed, I am no longer the sacred healer, I am just a woman who loves them and wants them open and translucent, trusting and grateful, loving and needing my gifts. Once they no longer need me, I am no longer useful. I have a hard time shifting gears, interacting with the new thick-skinned, repaired and growing love that doesn‘t want me any more, doesn’t want to be held and comforted, to be stroked and regrown, to be listened to and heard and understood. When they are done, there is no going back.

What will become of me, this healer of broken men who leave and resent my loving gifts. They want to forget that they were that weak, that open, that vulnerable. That I saw the darkest recesses they could show another person, and I loved them anyway. They couldn’t keep themselves that open. They needed a new conquest, a differently gifted woman to shower them with praise and adulation. Women who never saw those broken places and open sores.

And now, that this love is healing, he has gone the way of the armadillo. Shielded and armored and plated and heavy. Jagged and spiny and jumpy. I have seen this before. I will wait and see. In the meantime, what shall I do with my gifts, my healing, my ability to see open wounds and pack strength into tears? I don’t know. I guess i transform myself into an armadillo, silver plated and strong, warrior with soft skin beneath healing scars and plated armor. but when the moon is full and the night is heavy with soft stars, I find myself remembering, and I sing a new song for all those loves I have lost and the hopes that went them, still hoping that another will see me naked under the serious, wounded and hopeful sky and want to dance.


Next summer I will grow tomatoes and I will move my body in joy and gratitude to the sun and the bounty that has come of hard work. Every season is not a harvest. There are lean years, there is drought. Abundance is only found in gratitude and the knowledge that we are all limited and unlimited, flawed and beautiful, strong and weak.

When friends leave us, thank them for their friendship. Swallow the seeds of bitterness and know that each loss brings a new freedom. Empty fields fill in over time. We all walk our own path. And when we aren’t looking, those bitter seeds can transform us into nurturing, giving healers – when we forgive our own mistakes, when we love ourselves enough to know that this season has passed and we don’t always get what we asked for.

And if that friend comes calling, needs new seeds or even the fruit of your sorrow, give to her willingly, for you once loved her with all your heart and she gave you a gift you would need and didn’t know you had: the ability to heal, to turn the bitter into sweet, the freedom to let one season pass into the next, the wholeheartedness of a good life of which she was a part.

Next summer I will plant, even though this summer was fallow. I will pray for sunflowers and rain, healing and fire, kindness and bounty and joy. I will remember the devastation of judgment, the fields where seeds withered and died, the hot burning sun of reproach, and I will try again. Changed, alone, and different, but no longer fallow.



The Walk

I am holding the weight of my hopes and failures in the palms of my hands, and they are both heavy. Curved golden statues of loss and redemption, held aloft by the sheer will and strength that God gave me, my fingers wrapped around smooth molded metal, tracing and retracing the curves of my past.

I did not believe it would be so hard to set them down in the dirt and keep walking.

Sometimes, I feel they are following me. I look back and imagine I can see them glinting in the hot sun.

When I realize my fists are clenched, nails digging into flesh, I look down, unfurl the fingers of light that perform the manipulations of this world and there they are: my statues, truth and not truth, weakness and greatness, disappointment and triumph, gleaming heavy against my skin, weighty and with me as I walk.

Today these palms itch for stone, for words that do not wander, for unwavering trust, and I check to make sure they are open, five fingers reaching for the sun as I ground my body down, open-hearted, into mountain pose – El Shaddai of the old country alongside all that is was and will be. I practice breathing.

Open handed, I reach for what I desire, then remember the weight of only what I can allow myself to carry. I pick up nothing. I am not free.

Sometimes, when I sleep, these hands creep away from me, grasp for things that have no names and I wake feeling empty.

Today, I name everything and let it live where it lives – in shadow, in light, in laughter, in the sound of a small child calling my name in the night for comfort, in the way I alter my voice, try to notice my own frustrations when my buttons get pushed and I automatically move back into grasping for gold.

Join me. Help me remember. Put down your statues. Reach for stone and light and truth. It’s not far now, take my hand and we’ll walk together, the gold of the sun glinting at our backs, the truth of stone ground down into sand at our feet. We are carved mountains moving our light through this world, false gods falling away to dust, gleaming hearts gilding our sacred future as we uplift everything.

Come on. Let’s face it. Let’s walk.



Why I don’t drink

let me tell you why i don’t drink. it’s 4:45 and my eyes bolt open thinking of you.

port wine and olives, dark chocolate and jack daniels, it doesn’t matter -- alcohol equals another chance to choose, to choose again, to imagine our lips sliding together, our arms holding and moving and showing, our fevered hands turning hot maps into smooth lines on the creases of our souls.

let me tell you why i don’t drink.

i imagine things, the things i really want.

a bed of love, dark roses, a pool of infinite in the concentric circles of our bodies locked together, another daughter with your eyes.

let me tell you why i don’t drink.

the knots of my life become loosened and i begin to think that you are my rope, the one that could save me or hang me and i don’t know which would be worse, to find fathomless freedom for a fraction of a lifetime or be bound ever more tightly, knowing and swinging, unable to move.

let me tell you why i don’t drink.

because i want. i want.

i want to drink my fill, i want to be drunk on you, i want the taste of you on my tongue, the map of your desire forever imprinted on my fingertips.

i want your voice whispering visions in my ear, i want to hold your truth and your fears in the small of my back, your tenderness in the hollow beneath my throat, your feathers of freedom between my teeth, your latticework of light  deep inside me, leaking from of my eyes in puddles of salt and dreams.

if love were neon, I’d be on, illuminated in pink, an old-fashioned diner sign flashing
“i want, i want, i want... you”

let me tell you why i shouldn’t drink.

in the early morning dark i am spinning the wheels of marriage and commitment, art and destiny, pain tossed aside, shadows of all that has been close at hand and terrifyingly fragile … and i can’t help but wonder, what if?


Samantha Libby is a muppet in a world of cartoons and marionettes. She is mom to two children, and just said goodbye to her twenty-year-old cat. Sam was a co-host of the Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge and Lizard Lounge in the late 90s and was a member of the Boston slam team in 1999. She currently teaches creative writing at Nichols College. She is also the poet rabbi to an alternative Jewish congregation in Weston, MA. You can find her online at: and