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.

Ceramics

You never know when you might see yourself in the mirror – not glance, not look, but see – and what once seemed solid appears translucent.  What once looked like perfect strength, by common definition, now strikes you as fragile.

The cup you are drinking from slips out of your hand, deconstructing at your feet.  Not bothering to collect the broom and dustpan, you pack the car.  You pack the car lightly and go.

You take everything they thought they knew about you, and you take every last little scrap of how they think you should be, of who they think you should be, and you just burn it.

Holding the gray-white tresses of ash in the cradle of your upturned palm, you blow.

Window down, foot on the pedal.

 

Pearl

Walking alone in nature can be sacred, healing and rejuvenating. The motor of your mind gradually stops its whirring and quiets down, like a swarm of locusts moving further into the distance.  Constrictions loosen.  Stale transforms to Vivifying.  You have made some space around yourself, and you are participating in creation.  The sights and sounds of the organic world support you as a hammock might, allowing you to sway, to rock in the cradle of your underneath layers.

When walking alone, you don’t owe anybody anything.  No one owes you.  In doing so much less than you would otherwise be doing, you are doing so much more.  You are away from how you are thought of by others, even those who perhaps know you best.  And your own judgments begin to lift too, as the song of what you know begins to fall away.

You are a pearl rolling in a silver bowl.

 

Might

You might go down to the oyster bar by the train tracks where they have the squat ketchup bottles, salty fries and cold beer.  Where the sunburned tough boys go after working outside all day, to get drunk and drop Spanish olives in their beer glasses, staring dumbly at the bartender’s body while she shucks Wellfleets with her back turned to them, one bra strap slipping out from under her sleeve and down her arm.

If you don’t die and you can still walk, you might make your way around the phantasms of memory to a bench where you can sit with your hedgehog belly and eat pistachio ice cream and watch the carousel of the world continue to go around.  Maybe you’ll live to be so old that the period of grace will have passed, and people will avoid you as if you’re a Japanese stinkbug, exuding an obnoxious smell when crushed.

You might wrap a bandanna around the top of your salt and pepper head, your sorry hollow eyes sore as the knees of a carpenter, your olive oil hands barely keeping together, as if they were bound ashes in the breeze along an old country lane.  If you donate your organs, someone else might use your wandering heart if it has any beats left unbeaten. The skin, eyes, liver, kidneys you have used might be used by someone else, fenders at an auto salvage.

You might while away the time just roaming the streets in a state of supreme marvel, or drifting the house, room by room, on a warm night to the sound of rain.  What an accomplishment that would be.

 

Beneath

Your life is not a neat and tidy little package. You are not just the basic facts they trot out in the printed insult of an obituary once you’ve left this world: born here, worked as a so-and-so, married twice or not at all, had children or didn’t, survived by three goldfish and a nephew who’s sad you’re gone but hopes to get his hands on your record collection.

No, underneath the surface distractions of health insurance and grocery lists and registration renewals and wondering how you’ll pay for everything, your life is vast, messy. Full of pain, crippling fears, secret longings. But your journey, whatever its length and nature, is something you can learn to honor. You could close your eyes and penetrate with clear vision right through your fingertips like an afterburner pulling yourself along in your own wake.

The Other Side of Years

You look so much like she did,

I cannot stop watching.

Mysterious, sweet, a little ragged,

preparing coffee the same way,

tilting your head the same way.

Are the gods throwing dice?

 

To think it began the way it did,

only to end the way it did,

like a pilgrimage

or the red leaves of October.

How we felt,

who we were,

how you spoke to me

with the wind among the trees,

how I changed.

 

What it led to

after all this time,

altering the lives of others,

the ripples of our choices

still in motion,

the notions of the heart

still revealing terrible lessons.

 

What Your Apartment Said

This was written in a friend’s apartment in Pittsburgh, in the winter, first thing in the morning.  It was published in Wilderness House Literary Review last year.

WHAT YOUR APARTMENT SAID

What can we know of each other’s lives?

Sometimes little, sometimes much.

Still, the windows are not talking

and the dried lavender sits quietly.

 

What makes an elevated moment?

To unplug from the machine.

To unexpectedly become your own master.

To know the apple in the bowl is fine how it is.

 

In one direction pass fingers of light-

in the other, a rainshadow.

In all directions, the breath and the life-

in all directions, nothing.

 

Colored silks of morning fall on brick and metal,

drape themselves over glass and wood.

These winter trees are glad to see it,

and I am glad to see it.

My two entwined giraffes,

their slender necks full of secrets,

are glad to see it.