Stone Lion

The face of the stone lion who surveys the back yard has turned white due to weather and time, two things I understand very little of, being neither meteorologist nor physicist.  I only know that he reminds me of a Celtic warrior painted up for a fight, milky streaks spreading through the dark copper of his mane.

A stone lion is the best kind of lion to have, for he requires no meat and will never turn on you.  Being stone, he looks no more tired than he did when he entered my service all those years ago.

I admire his dignified silence, and wish I were more like him, so unaffected by weather and time.  Maybe then the sun I’m sitting in wouldn’t feel like it had to work so hard to beat back the gloom of eventuality.

For the moment, though, I somehow get hold of the slippery fish of acceptance and wrestle it in close, effort in one hand, surrender in the other.

For the moment, he comforts me, ever gazing at the garden before him, neither its conqueror nor its servant, a snail passing before his feet like a tourist visiting a monument.

 

Ladders

It’s hard to be sure

if you’re climbing.

You know,

really going somewhere.

Or are you just milling about

as if you were

at a cocktail party.

Who can say

in what direction

you’re really moving?

Could be sideways,

or some off-the-charts

geometric angle.

Perhaps there are

no directions at all,

it just appears there are.

Or maybe you’re hanging

on for dear life

to the same rung

you grabbed hold of

when you slipped

and almost fell

so long ago.

A Handful of Daylight

A tremor in the foundation, the end of things as we know them – we dare not speak of rising water, just quietly build the levee.

Strange to view a conclusion so absolute through a lens of knowing turned back on itself, from the vantage point of Here and Now. Still, old predictable resistance can be folded small and dropped into one’s pocket, or cast away among shards of breaking morning.

Winter solstice glides up to meet us, you can smell its breath. Wind has stripped the trees and paid them nothing for it. The trees are just trees, the wind, only wind. If we relinquished our ownership of all things it would be no easier to part with what little light remains. It’s just enough to see by, just enough to make out the transparency of all that appears solid.

Yet once the first drops of light splash the pool of night’s ending, the needle of our compass twitches – illuminated, restless, urging us on. We see ourselves rising from the bed, drawing back curtains to throw open windows, but we can’t always do it. Sometimes there is no movement and we watch the world with an outsider’s eyes.

Sometimes we see ourselves in a circle of standing stones, making a fire where we might set flame to all things. The ring of stone is a place where we might plant something new, once the cinders have cooled and been used to smudge our faces.

A place where triumph and tragedy might coexist, where our praises and lamentations might live together in peace beneath a frost of stars.

Let Me Not Wait

Let me tell you now

how much I will miss you.

Let me not spend another moment

alive on this earth with words unspoken.

Let me not wait until you are gone, as I’ve waited with so many now lost, 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.

 

 

Song Lines

Listen. A voice inside you is singing. You are following your song lines, you are singing the world and the land into being as you walk upon it.

We are surrounded by teachers: the path we take, the wind, the people on the street, the people in our lives, the one who makes us crazy, the one we admire, the one we envy, the one we pity, our peaceful feeling, our desperation, the goldenrod, the baby’s breath.

There are times when the sky is so blue and the clouds so soft at their frayed edges, that it all hardly seems real. Sometimes the magic of the sun shining on water makes us wonder how we’ll ever leave this place. Sometimes it’s “how will I do this, how will this work, this can’t be happening, I can’t do this anymore, I’m so tired, this is my life”. Meanwhile the sun rises, incredibly, and moves across the sky. The wind blows, incredibly. A bird sings, incredibly.

If your eyes shift to the rearview mirror for too long, you risk crashing into what’s in front of you. Time to go on walkabout again. Time to return to the song lines. Time to just be, time to remember every step is taken on a frail sheet of glass. Everything we do, we do while standing on a falling snowflake. Every time we give up is a new beginning.

So you arrive, from your long and arduous climb, at the platform where your voice has been waiting for you, and you know the sound of it. You know the lines of the song you are following. You are an instrument, the music of the land moving through you as you sing it into being. Alone as you are, you shall be with all the world.

 

On This Umbilical Earth

Gratitude and I had an argument, then went walking together, that morning when I felt a kinship with those turtles sunning themselves on a log.

The wisdom of not being industrious truly belongs to them, but I picked up a strand of it as if by osmosis or magnetism.

To cast aside all that seems necessary at a given time – a choice not to be confused with squandering.

Given, as is all our time.  Every scrap of it a shining gift, a new blessing, another last chance to take up a little space, to take up some room

on this umbilical earth.

 

These Rising Rivers

My heart moves so fast that it almost has me scrambling after it.  But no, we are connected – it can only run so far before it’s left with no choice but to wait for me, jerked to a halt, a dog reaching the end of its leash.

That said, once I’d seen you off safely and on time, I went back to the bed you slept in, still warm with the aliveness of your body, and I wept and wept.

The whole history of my life stood before me: a spiral, a cathedral, dirt road, river.  A sacred calendar, its entirety known only to me, only thought of as sacred by me.

I can withstand the sun and wind, I thought to myself.  I can withstand the intangible, the horror, the splendor.  But not this rain, these rising rivers – Oh Transcendent Energy, haven’t I seen enough rain?