Field Row’s End

ox turns at field row’s end

the onions, tomatoes, zucchini and dill

 

the luminous strands of March

get up, get ready, to work, to begin

 

get up, get ready, to work, to follow

the arc of the world, the slope of the light

 

earth beneath thumbnail

knees pressed in soil

 

clods of mud smear rubber boots

and we, the workers

 

anchored to weather

with its moods, whims, dictations

 

we, the workers

fastened to the ox and the engine of his breath

 

fastened to the fields

splashing around in our patience

 

working until it is no longer work,

but who we are and what we do

 

settling down to seek the stillness of evening

we have become the work itself

 

we are the field, the ox

we are the onions, the mud

 

watching attentively, listening closely

viewing ourselves as if through a microscope

 

the metronome held in the bone-basket of our ribs,

its momentum not yet interrupted

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Rungs

It’s hard to be sure

if you’re climbing.

You know,

really going somewhere.

As opposed to

just milling about

as if you were

at a cocktail party.

Who can say

in what direction

you’re actually moving?

Could be sideways,

or some off-the-charts

geometric angle.

Perhaps there are

no directions at all,

and we’re just taught

that an absence of direction

would be impossible.

Or maybe

you’re hanging on

for dear life

to the same slippery place

you grabbed hold of,

when you lost your footing –

and almost fell –

so long ago.

Humble Warrior

For many long years, sleep did not come.  Now it is here, a sanctuary, an unremembered temple of well-fed lions. 

Summer comes, undeniable as the needs of body and soul.  We peel away her nightdress, and when she goes we go with her. 

There will still be times we do not feel supported by the earth, and contact with it will need to be reestablished.  There will still be times when pain holds us in its mouth like a whale, and we struggle to light our way so we might see better in the darkness of its belly.

The sun is rising, now, again.  The earth tilts on its axis, and that star is still there, incomprehensible fire of all fires at its center, and the fire moves ever outward, cooling equally, creating a roundness.

We owe our lives to the circumstances of the earth and the sun, to the distance between them.

It is morning and you are held in sleep.  I am held in my usual early wakefulness.  Calm water has eased my burning.  There is soreness in my body, and insect bites on my skin.

I eat up the world, and am eaten by the world.  A humble warrior does not forget to bow to all of it.

Dreamdust

A dream of bamboo groves and flickering candles. A dream of sitting in meditation, of the alchemy of bees bringing about the reality of honey.

A dream of desire, awake and alive, of a sanctuary of sleep like a temple of wed-fed lions, of a heart containing both fire and calm understanding.

A dream of crouching down at the edge of water, of the sound of a bullroarer, of the coyote crossing my path and looking back, and he this night twitching as he dreams of the human crossing his path.

Dreams of the language of rivers, the lessons of mountains, the lumbering grace of knowledgeable bears, the songs of birds, the pulse of stillness, the rise and fall of tides, of breath, of energy.

And then the inevitable return. For after the dream, I enter myself again.

Yard Work

Let me tell you now how much I will miss you.

Let me not spend another moment wandering the world with words unspoken.

Let me not wait until you are gone, as I have waited with so many now lost from me, and narrowed my eyes as withered chances blew past my flushed cheeks, lifted by a sudden wind, leaves in a wheelbarrow carried back to the place where only a moment before, I gathered them.

As if I were trying to perform a task far too large for me, something to test the bounds of my mortal endurance.

The Encounter

I stood in a glass house at the edge of the sea.

I watched as the tide rose, gradually swallowing the house, waves breaking against glass walls, and over the glass roof, booming, rattling, trembling.

Seaweed, rocks, shells, too many fish to count, so many colors.

Then came the crabs, starfish, anemones, cephalopods, sliding, clicking across the transparent roof, pressed up against the glass.

Then came the sea turtles, their old tough shells cracking the glass as the force of the sea slammed them against it.  The house was completely underwater now, and water began to seep through the cracks with mounting pressure.

My blood lurched through the veins in my neck.  I thought of running wildly from room to room, but just found myself standing perfectly still. 

I saw the small dark shape of a whale on the underwater horizon, the fluid border of sight.  I tried to blink it away, but it was still there, and it was coming. 

It swept nearer, loomed closer, until it filled my vision completely.  The transparent house was outside the whale’s awareness, so on it came, about to collide into the glass I stood behind. 

Friends, this is how it is to die and be reborn.

This is how it is, returning from the death of your animal nature.

Flicker

Who holds this light?  Nobody knows,

only that it stronger grows.

Dim or bright, the smallest flame

can light the darkness just the same.