Omphalos

My fires are so thirsty,

the hunger drinks itself.

Transcendent wheel turning,

at once groaning and soundless.

I speak the language of rounded stones,

spoken at the navel of the world.

 

At times I cannot even reach you.

At times I scoop you up

to ride across the world in the cups of my hands,

my skin peeling back

as if it were the bark of a eucalyptus tree.

 

To really explain, I’ve got to go back

to where the rain stopped suddenly

and everything went quiet

and the sky turned bright orange.

I’ve got to go back and I can’t take you with me,

but I will return and tell you what I find there.

 

All my life,

I simply do what I was made to do.

That is why I am a contented man.

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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.

Mending The Body Of Being

Outside culture, beneath belief, away from habit, beyond all that marks us as remarkably different or strikingly similar, we are simple humans who arrived here naked.  We will leave here without the body we were born into.

We are phosphorescent.  We are humming with being.

You can be standing in the dazzle of sun and snow at the same time.  You can be standing in the umbra of a tropical downpour, looking through a rainbow under the sun.  Either way, silence looks after itself.  Noise gathers itself up. Neither one answers to us.  May we just rest here.

All is just as it is, here in this life, this suture holding birth and death close, pulling the two garden gates toward each other, drawing the two sides of the hurt in tight together among the stitches.

Here in this world, ever wounded, ever mended.

 

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.

Prescription

A soulful song that moves you in the way nothing else can, except that one person in your mind’s eye who is responsible for braiding together the softness and madness of all your fears and longings  before they have drained away out of your head, out of the pliable funnel of time, carousel vortex of your days, the calendar of your life, known best to you, sacred to you with scribbles indecipherable to others.  It’s gotta have some punch ‘cuz it’s been awhile.  It’s gotta eat you for lunch and leave a smile.  When dreams have not yet drained away you can hear your fortunes fizzing like seltzer, crackling among blood cells like dry kindling.  Resilient as we are, we are designed to fall.  You can go into it with grace or knock down the wall, both things shine and dazzle and reflect a hundred ways, prisms insightful.  Birth is achieved and no promises kept after, none but the Grand One looming with its undeniable searing truth, tomcat walking the fence, howls of heat rising in his wake.

 

Rumination

You begin life by performing an unconscious miracle: being born.  Next, you study the masters that the teachers set before you.  After that, you study the ones of your own choosing.  Then, most importantly – if you’re lucky enough to still have a beating heart – you live.  You live, digest life, use your hands and brains and guts to make something of your own.

You develop the patience to peel garlic.  You learn when to make a routine, when to break a routine.  When to take stock, when to make stock.  When to stop chattering and feel how huge silence is.  When to multiply, when to divide.

Eventually you might try a cup of decaf or a study group, once you’ve blown off enough steam, once you’ve fulfilled your requirements, once you’ve taken care of your responsibilities.  You might try gardening or calligraphy, fishing or painting or poetry.  You might become interested in sanitation or telescopes or diseases.  You might give away everything you own, walk to the side of the road and put your thumb out.  You might stare at the wall, seeking nothing, finding nothing, needing nothing.