Ephemeral

There are transitory moments

between seasons

when the world

comes out of its dressing room,

so stunning we lose our balance.

This moment of spiritual frenzy

does not wait to be discovered.

It comes and goes like a fire

of dry kindling,

and can be easy to miss

depending on one’s latitude.

 

Light spills through antique bottles

on a sunken windowsill,

stones and tree-roots

are less discreet than usual.

We feel our fingertips more closely,

an un-namable itch turns over inside us

and we want to know everything.

 

It is my job to point this out,

as I pointed out the copper-plated bar top

while you gobbled up your crustaceans,

swimming in a sauce of cream and brown roux,

sopping up the last remnants with grilled bread.

Planets may rotate and stars explode,

but earthbound as we are,

we listen for warblers.

 

We look ahead to coffee,

meals, holidays, weather.

 

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Let Me Become

Let me become a master of listening, a student of surrender. May a strong and blossoming tree grow from the root of all my fears, a tree with the innate knowledge of how to bend with the wind.

I have much to learn from the ferryman who spends his life taking people across the river, but there is even more to learn from the river itself: how to swell with a flood, how to narrow with a drought, how to be tossed about in a wild current or move with a gentle one, how to be in a place of stillness, how to be at the bottom, the middle, the surface.

May I forget all names, all naming, in order to better contemplate the nameless. May my judgments be altogether cast aside. Let me not torment myself with endless desires. Let me learn how to be with them, so that I can say “Good Morning, My Brothers” and “Good Evening, My Sisters” with compassion, and a simple tenderness.

Let me love hugely and endlessly. Let me become.

Neahkhanie Mountain

On this, the first day of my life, the elders tell me they never acquired anything they didn’t later wish to be free of.  They ask about my mother, father, umbilical cord.

Soon, I tell them, soon: the wind on this mountain will sweep my mother’s ashes from my hand and combine them with the Pacific.  Soon I will learn that my father has gone off to Spokane, that the cord was wrapped around my neck and had to be untangled.

We travel up the Kilchis River, pick huckleberries, eat sourgrass and purple clover, catch steelhead.  These elders, these children of the mountains tell me I’m one of them, kindling my warm hunger, my quiet thirst.  Dirt and clay emulsify with the tissue in my fingers.

The voice of this place is audible to me now, I understand the meaning of my name.

I hear the presence of this Coast Range, and rest in the tremor of waves grinding their verses against the ankles of Neahkahnie, the story of the earth told to me in a wordless dialect.

Deep listening is effortless on the first day of your life, when you’ve yet to unlearn it.

Making Conversation

First we rise from the altar of the world, from where feathers, bones, and seashells are the castaways of fresh dreaming.

Next, we look around, and we see in color.  One pigment is astonishing enough, but a whole multitude?  It ignites us, the way laughter transforms an ordinary room into a healing temple.

Then we move.  We ask a question, yet who would bring all mystery to ruin by desiring an answer?  I have seen other worlds and, I tell you, this one is a place of worship.

Now we hunger, thirst, create, come alive, truly.  Snip the bindings of rusty limitation.  When the boundary between language and music dissolves, you know you’re someplace extraordinary.  You’re traveling without maps, making conversation with the world.

Begin now, if you haven’t already.  Sleep is coming for us.

Awakenings

We can see so much more with closed eyes, as if in closing them we are truly opening them. We see our story, the story of ourselves, our human-animal birth, all the way through to the opposite gate. It’s not in color or black-and-white, but some strangely familiar quality of light, striking chords and nerves, born of the memory of music filling up our chests, born of turning over shadows to see what lies beneath.

This life, this breath, will be leaving this body in a final sighing exhalation. It’s all we know, all we can count on. Into a place transcendent of this conscious realm, we step, fall, go, return, are given, taken. And afterward, maybe this, maybe that, maybe no this or that. Maybe find something and hold it and let it go, maybe no holding, maybe no letting go, maybe no finding anything. Rain is extraordinarily bright, sunshine can be heard falling on the roof. The sound of lightning catches our eye, heard with something other than ears, tasted, yet not with tongues.

The narrow creases of our eyes become the hollow shell of a crab we once picked up and inspected. We stop trying to make sense of things, stop asking so many questions. All the stones hanging around our necks just fall away. The narrow path widens, broadens, and we can’t help but wonder if the earth might call us back like a mother standing in a doorway, waving to her playing children with hands of soil and stone, with hair of water and wood, calling us into safety, calling us in from the mounting darkness.

And, heads lifting, we stand. We stand and we run towards the light. We run, laughing, toward our greatest awakening.

Gratitude and Grace

The hills, how they roll. Softly sloping emeralds bejeweling the crown of August with its high corn and sunflowers drooping their heavy heads, like me, in silent celebration, a noiseless halleluiah.

The world, how it glimmers. How it appears to be sitting still, beneath the fingertips of the sun, as if some new form of incredible light has just sprung into being and is shedding itself over the garden of the universe.

My mind, how it flickers. Static with the commotion of its ten-thousand children. Thoughts whirling, dust rising in the wake of a stallion’s hooves, the crackling energy of a storm at sea, bending me as if I were the bough of an evergreen. The flailing curtain of rain opens its mouth to speak: “What have you lost sight of? Reclaim your honor. Fall to your knees. Be true to your journey, your gateway, your Self.”

Summer’s fragrance, how it settles. How the cool sheet of its kindness comes to rest against my feverish thighs, as I try, all the while, for a little gratitude, a little grace.   

Collective Individualism

So many people these days are on an inward journey toward personal peace, a search for meaning in their lives, extending an invitation to Awakening as often as they can.  It’s a sort of collective individualism occurring alongside the unshakeable knowing that we are all ultimately One.

How cathartic to remove a bandage and find an old wound has healed.  Settle into yourself.  Settle into the world until you reach the exit.