Starlight Stay

Here’s a link to my poem Starlight Stay, currently appearing in The Adirondack Review.

I wrote this in the middle of the night, up late writing, reading, listening to music, feeling vividly awake and energized.  It’s pretty out of character for me to stay up into the wee hours, though, and I remember longing for the magic dust of sleep, and dreams.

 


Dragon Gates

While drinking cold tea from a glass jar and dividing your thoughts between Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Neruda, you cut a kiwi in half the long way and consider the oval ring of black seeds at its heart.  You always see Our Lady Of Guadalupe there, proving that eating a piece of fruit can be a private ritual, an example of eco-psychology, a rite of passage, an odyssey.

It occurs to you how disposable – though indeed miraculous – your body is.  To your mind it is sacred, almost holy, containing all the memories of your life, your ancestry.  You sit there, sipping your tea, and contemplate how not-sacred your body actually is.  How it is an idea that exists only inside a human mind.

You shed the illusion, leave it behind like a shipwreck you swam ashore from, like a prince giving up all worldly pleasures to go be a hermit.  You decide to relax into Being until the time comes for you to pass into Non-being.

Finishing the kiwi fruit, it occurs to you that when life becomes too fixed – too rigid – the Trickster god comes in some form and rattles you to the bone.

Wiping your mouth on your shirt sleeve, you remember that in Hong Kong there are architects who build skyscrapers with huge holes in them “for the dragons to go through“.

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.

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.

First Light Splatters The World-Canvas

First, I dreamed that I wandered from room to room in a glass house at the edge of the sea, working with my fears and my desires the way a sculptor works with clay, the way a fly-fisherman works his line.

Then I dreamed of women, of all the sisters I have known.  They made a great circle around me and chanted Om three times.  My heart became a bird of many colors.  My rib cage opened and the bird flew up into the sky.  My tear-ducts ran themselves dry and the muscles of my eyes ached.  I knew I was alive.

Finally, I dreamed of bloodlines and of men, the many brothers I have known.  I dreamed that my father, my grandfather and my son all sat with me at a round table of thick dark wood.  At the center of the table was an elk heart with stones and feathers and seashells on it.  We each ate some of the heart.  I saw them all from a place of peace, a place where all my emotions and thoughts had become transparent.  A place where love runs freely without refrain, a river whose dam has been lifted, flowing with its natural movement restored to it.

Love, you are the answer.  Love, you are the way.  Love, you are the force that opens me.

I woke early to a lone bird whose song split across the darkness, as if repeating something I had yet to discover.  I had the feeling he knew it was spring.  Whatever he knew, or didn’t know, he was joined shortly thereafter by his own sisters and brothers to usher in the sun.

 

 

The Tourist

Why do I wake while morning is still night?

I grope along endless caverns, it seems, descending many fathoms deep into memories of the past, and dreams of the future, my hand outstretched, a flickering candle in the curl of my fingers.

Journeys that – in the present light of day – I struggle to recall.  And I am a tourist there, though I carry no passport and leave no footprints.

People whisper, muttering: “Oh, he looks tired.  Something wrong with him?”

Yet I just smile because I know my pockets were sewn with fortune-thread.  And I know I am the ragged onward-goer, the ever-forward marcher.