Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.


Bar-tender.  Tenderloin.  Unexpected tenderness from a newly-married, sentimental Letterman.  "Tenderly" (the Nat King Cole version, please).  A surreptitiously tender glance from across the room.  Copland's "The TenderLand."  Tender calves and splinted shins from running hills again in spite of all the evidence against it.  Tender skin of overripe pears on the kitchen counter.  Garden-tender, heart-tender, extender.  Tending the fold, tending to business, tending to procrastinate. Tender spots on the body, ripe for acupuncture; less tender, post-needles.  Laughingly tender bromance hilarity from Rudd & Segel (see it!).  Tender new shoots fighting their way out of the crumbly spring soil, tender skin sunburned from too much time in this young sun, soft wood of a cafe table tenderized by years of scrawls spills mugs slammed angrily down on its exposed and vulnerable surface.  Tenderizing meat on the deli counter.  F. Scott Fitzgerald's haunting Tender is the Night.  Tender bruise on the hip, tending toward morningtide.  Sternum cracking open in camel, in the wake of a good backbend (ergh, too-tender lower back) and all that anahata energy (unstruck) rushes out

just in time

then there is N sitting across the bar from you in someone else's hair (eyes welling, yours) where she is staring down the barrel of the gun of the heretofore-unknown but creepingly menacing advanced ovarian cancer (there is so much suffering in the world), and the heart tends to swell and the hand instinctively reaches across the bar to clasp the one it shouldn't clasp because of a too-tender immune system weakened by chemo (careful, so fragile), this now-delicate little bird across the great chasm (damn bar) pretending at levity, swimming in tender looks from the man at her side whose physical size belies the softness inside, betrayed by the weary eyes you'd not yet seen before that day

the haunting sorrow of knowing this is how she will die
now it is just when
no longer how

Sondheim's "Johanna" on repeat (the tenderest of songs sung by the tenderest of tenors written by the tenderest of composers) here in this quiet catch of silence

tender chamomile and valerian steeping, slowing the restless heart at eventide
tender hours spent in darkness
sans sleep
(the fallacy is in believing there is ever any separation in the world)
feeling her premature loss
her wounds still open, those tender hollow spaces that once held the potential for new life 
riddled absent sick removed 

same grief echoed the other day
Plath family suicides repeated (repeated, repeated) once again
fisheries, Alaska, a son, this time
(what fools to think we are separate from one another!)
the aching sorrow of the last remaining
still putting one foot in front of the other

tending toward solitude
tending toward sunset
tending toward late afternoon sunshine flaming out in the south bay window

tending the plants
tending the weeds
tending the aphids
tending the heart
[tenderheart ~ karuna ~ compassion]

Tender is the Night, fiction but not ("Night the beloved").  March, tender like a lamb, rolling out like a lion?  Tender twilight, soft cerulean sky.  Tending the prana, tending to grace.  Tending the tendency to tend too much.

tenderize the meat
soften the heart
smooth the edges
explode the center

open it up crack it there break the lobster shells scrape out the sweet tender meat roll it around on your tongue

fracture the sternum

the spaces
in between

read a line the other day that has not yet left the mind; the author writes that she rejoices she has a heart big enough to break over and over and over again, and i think of that, and break and fill and break again, and tenderness swoons inside


ten·der [ten-der] adjective, -er, -est, verb

1. soft or delicate in substance; not hard or tough: a tender steak.
2. weak or delicate in constitution; not strong or hardy.
3. (of plants) unable to withstand freezing temperatures.
4. young or immature: children of tender age.
5. delicate or soft in quality: tender blue.
6. delicate, soft, or gentle: the tender touch of her hand.
7. easily moved to sympathy or compassion; kind: a tender heart.
8. affectionate or loving; sentimental or amatory: a tender glance.
9. considerate or careful; chary or reluctant (usually fol. by of).
10. acutely or painfully sensitive: a tender bruise.
11. easily distressed; readily made uneasy: a tender conscience.
12. yielding readily to force or pressure; easily broken; fragile.
13. of a delicate or ticklish nature; requiring careful or tactful handling: a tender subject.
14. Nautical. crank2 (def. 1).

–verb (used with object)
15. to make tender.
16. Archaic. to regard or treat tenderly.

Origin: 1175–1225; ME, var. of tendre


Anonymous said…
This is-I have no words. Also, what book is that from-glad she has a heart big enough to break over and over again??? I cannot remember.

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