Weather Report

To better understand nature you need to spend some time in it alone, observing.  The more you do this, the more quietly aware you’ll become of what is happening there – the order, science, art, survival.

The same applies to one’s body and mind, habits, tendencies, perpetual states, thoughts that come and go, emotions that change and pass.  The solid and fluid.  The blurry and congruent.  The daily weather report of moods.

Backbone

This poem first appeared in Red River Review in 2013.

Backbone

A favorite thing of mine, he said,

is a hot drink in early morning,

taken to cut through phlegm

and shake rust out of the brain,

usually around six o’clock.

 

And then to have a walk, he said,

in the company of my brothers and sisters-

the river, forest, sky and stone,

all that is natural upon the earth.

 

And then to have a swim, he said,

whenever and wherever possible,

to awaken the pores,

refresh the mind,

and again make the brave attempt

to view the world without judgment.

 

And then to have a nap, he said,

to gain the healing daytime rest

that helps prevent diseases of the body,

to dream of sex and other wildness,

to dream of perfect silence.

 

And then to do some work, he said,

a few hours of honest work,

whittling away at whatever the project might be,

all the while grateful

for eyes, ears, lungs, hands and heart.

 

And then to die, he said,

to die a little bit each day

because that is what we owe to life,

what those who came before us had to do.

And though we may not live as they did,

it does not change it.

 

Privileged

My eyes are always pulling me into the visible, constantly bringing me back to the exterior. And there are these lines drawn in my mind, lines that divide, names that label. There are clocks and calendars and maps and guidelines and rules and laws, all trying to tell me where I am, when I am, what I am, who I am, what is right, what is wrong. I didn’t put them there, the world I’m a part of put them there.

So it is no surprise that as I lay there with eyes closed, perfectly still, in absolute silence, it came to me: everything is a privilege. And many of the things that appear to be a burden, or problem, are just as much a privilege as anything else.

It would be my privilege to witness this pain, this fear, this worry that has come to me, and then to not be spun out of control by it, to watch myself be flexible with it, see myself move beyond it. As if it were a rock and I was a watery current, flowing forward with gentle insistence.

I am glad to remember the invisible, to be persistent in my acknowledgement of the interior, because what is real is so much more than what our eyes can see.

 

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.

 

 

Miracles

Sit. Eat. Sit and eat.

Stand. Stand and walk.

Touch, see, hear, talk.

Sleep, wake, again, wake. Live, receive, give, take.

Listen, speak. Gently go your way.

Heat hands with fire, cool them with clay.

Bow, surrender. Rise, shine.

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.

 

Listless

Every day I make a list of things that need to be done, things that might slip through the fine mesh net of short-term memory.

Today, the list contained more items than I could possibly accomplish.  So I did what you might expect – I pushed it down into the folds of my left-hand pocket, tightened up my shoes and went walking instead, to space out and observe a planet that happens to be a perfect distance from this particular sun in order for life to exist and thrive.  I took along a pen and paper, because when you’re panning for gold, you never know what you might find.

Later, when I empty my pockets for the day, I’ll look over the list again, to see what must be transferred to tomorrow’s list.  Some items might no longer ring with such importance, and will simply be discarded.  And of course I’ll need to consider what standing I’m in with the relatives I failed to call, friends I didn’t message, professional contacts I never emailed, bills I didn’t pay, appointments I missed.

Then I’ll go outside and watch the last strands of milky light recede beyond the treetops, revealing steadfast Jupiter like a celestial anchor.  And a little ways over in the sky, the ember of Mars rocking in a luminous cradle.

And then, as if that isn’t enough, the fireflies will come out with their earthbound constellation of flashing lamps, and I’ll hear the neighbor cooking dinner through her open kitchen window.