Circles

If I didn’t have to go to work today, I’d write a clever turn-of-phrase or a cryptic suggestion only you would understand the meaning of. I’d spend my time among the dead, paying my respects with a few well-put-together lines destined to become a classic. I’d write a poem for you because you’ve been on my mind lately, maybe even work on the novel that’s been sitting in a shoebox on the floor in the corner behind the desk for half as long as it takes children to grow up and finish school.

I’d write about the sideways snow going on and on, the unexpected cruelty of someone who was once a dear friend, the weaving and un-weaving of music leaving an indentation where it makes contact. I’d consider how writing, women, and weather can all be fickle and tough to predict. I’d consider how, of all the woodpiles I’ve seen, the German beehive requires the most patience and is a thing of beauty.

I’d mull over all my fears and desires, go for a walk, stare out a window, hope I might be of use to someone by the time my head meets a pillow, contemplate my dream about Paul Simon where I attended the opening night of a play he wrote, and afterward we sat and quietly drank pint-glasses of beer, me telling him how much his music meant to me that time I rode the bus in the rain. He understood and – of course – will be coming for Christmas.

Whether I have to go to work today or not, I’ll remember nothing has ever been mine to claim – all is given, even my name. I’ll not forget I’m blessed, palms pressing together in front of my heart. I’ll take a look at all the circles in which I’ve lived, gain some perspective, as if seeing them from the tiny window of a passenger plane with my forehead pressed against the glass. And, pulling the sword of my life from the stone of the world, my heart might recall how to make the much larger circle of a thank-you spoken in the wordless language of peace.

 

Wilderwalk

Morning wakes my sleepy head,

and after coffee, eggs and bread,

I wilderwalk the day away

with feathered arms and legs of clay.

 

Quiet greets me like a friend

on seldom trodden paths that bend

through forest, field and golden grass –

how slowly now the time does pass.

 

I listen to the barred owl’s call

and climb upon the woodland wall,

to hold the cloudless sky in sight

and look upon approaching night.

 

Tomorrow I shall do the same,

for ‘tis the meaning of my name

to gather firewood and cook –

to skip a stone and walk alone

beside the babbling brook.

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.

 

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?

 

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.