Attainment


This morning in being still
Finally
For maybe a moment or two
Everything was achieved

All that wanting
All that noise
Bothering my body
Constantly crowding this mind
all day long
and maybe
Into the night
Stopped.
And in the silence
I accomplished
the whole of my life’s work.

When my mother was settling down
Into her last sleep
She murmured,
“I have accomplished”
And in floating away on the tide
Into the vast ocean of stillness
She found that that was that
And smiled.

What I find in the silence
Is that all this activity
All these mistakes
All this awkwardness and floundering
Is magnificent.

I swim in it.
I give way to what I am and
what is becoming of all that
in this moment
As in the waters of hot sulfurous springs
we find again the flowing emptiness,
the joy of finding we are nothing
All the noise we have drawn in
to make our way
wherever we have come to
is gone.

As when, in those days
and days without endings
suspended
between the worlds,
we floated in stillness
Beginning only now and then
To sense somehow
through the beating rhythm
Of everything we knew
Somehow
to feel the vibrations
that would eventually
Somehow
capture our soul.

I Sleep for You

I sleep for you, my beloved,
My darling one,
I sleep for you when you do not sleep
When your love for another keeps you awake
Hanging on the sound of her breath.

I take a remedy for the pain in my head
That took up residence
During a night of sobbing
For your pain.
It penetrates the membranes of separation
To ease the searing in your head
You have no choice but to endure.

I sing to you the songs I sang
When you dozed in the crook of my arm.
The Broadway tunes,
The song about a blackbird singing in the night
Knowing it will ease the flow
From day to dark.

I breathe in light and breathe out strength
Straight Into your lungs, into that body you drag
From one act of love to another
All day long, one day after another
With no rest.
I breathe for you.
Long, greedy breaths
Filled with life.

I walk through the forest,
Seeking beauty for you
Filling your nose with drafts of moist earth,
Filling your aching spaces
With he music of the pure blue sky
The vibrating gold of an autumn leaf
As it flutters down.
I drawn it in, deep, so deep,
and fill you with it all.

It is you who are seeing it, you who are smelling it
You who hear the slight call of a bird
Fluttering into winter
As the wind moves all the leaves
Of burnished umber
In a dance that enchants your every fiber.

It is you, my beloved, whose cells multiplied
Here inside this body.
Now as then, I breathe for you,
I cover your feet in the middle of the night
Without thought
When I am cold
As my mother did for me
As you do for the bodies that emerged
From the chemistry of cells
Deep within the earth of you.

My blood nourishes you
As the sunlight coming through my window
Here in another faroff land
Penetrates our eyes.
Laughing, breathless with joy
I hear my heart crack
And break from all moorings
As when a rock cliff splits
WIth the unending force
of wind and water.


And again I break away
From all I know of me
Flooded with these hot tears
Of molten love.

 

For Beauties Lost

 

 

I cried today
For beauties lost, small moments passed
Sifting through as if an hourglass
Each grain shining as the force of time
Pulls along without a sign
That it too will fall from view
To be caught in well-springs deep within
Where it will glitter briefly
When light slants through, bright and true
And pulls tears of joy and loss
From a heart full since broken
More than twice

My daughter stands by some device
In front of rows of chairs and wooden stage
Violin to chin, making music sing
At some young age,
Such sweetness danced behind my eyes
That tears welled up and I wept
For such a moment deeply kept
Somewhere hidden within a cell
Where only dreams are said to dwell.

And then the moment when,
Having watched and run and breathed
With such abandon on the grass
The ball at last with one swift pass
Arrived just where he’d known it should
My blond young son had kicked it straight
With a slight lithe leap, it flew so neat
And so direct to find
The middle of that net.
Bouncing back, we clapped so hard and cheered
My heart so filled with beauty it was seared
Forever, soaked with love within my mind.

And now, in this moment where I sit
I hear the liquid strains of violin
Coming from a box within
this box that seems to move me right along
Driving past woods themselves alive with song
Blossoms drip from apple trees
Where savage flowers in random beauty grow
Below, so many forms I’ll never know

The liquid that has touched my cheeks
Is that which makes all essence flow
Amidst this green that spring makes grow
I drown in some sweet sorrow
We’ll call love.

My Sorrow Speaking

Travesties unseemly

Small and unremarked as may be

Separating  skin from skin,

The longing lover from beloved

and from love itself.

Tearing at us, clawing.

 

We are awed and appalled

At the stupefying ignorance of it all.

Of that lying, of that dying

Of the spirit, of the soul

 

Suspended; not above and not below

And for certain, not within.

Somewhere we are shuddering,

Cowering in our crib.

The world in spin, we cannot move

To stop what is.

 

Holding fast at last

To some beauty we have seen,

For some brief and shining time.

What we have known to be real,

not some remote ideal.

Searching in the darkness in our chest

for something more

We can see it, shimmering and fine

Faint as if a star at rest

Surviving still that searing fire

Burning at its core.

 

Insistent,  clinging still around us 

scandalous, yet well outside

Those tender, seemly confines

Of morality and sensibility

Of comparison, of rejection or ejection.

Sordid beyond what we know of degradation

Of what we  learned of abnegation

Of refusal; inadmissible.

 

All has flown 

To a place so distant

from what we call our home.

The familiar, the known simplicities

The scents, the sounds

that echo in our soul.

 

Stop! We cry again. Just stop!

But it has not the will to shudder

And be done.

It must have the floor

For all there is to say, and more.

 

Mind unwound, we find we too have sinned.

So we will stand and cry aloud

And find forgiveness 

In the swirling

of the wind.

 

 

 

 

The Waxing Moon

There is a time when gold of moon

becomes so rich in hue and light

there is nothing that could

in any way 

surpass this beauty.

 

And, as it glides so imperceptibly 

toward the darkness of the mountain 

waiting,

the sorrow of the moment 

becomes so hard to bear;

such sadness that this beauty 

will so soon vanish 

and  will never again 

be this.

 

And then the morning light begins

to touch the tops 

of those same dark hills 

And turns the bare trees of winter 

to such a deep and burnished gold

the skies themselves

tremble ‘round their edge with awe

as they in turn become suffused

with a brilliant and vibrating blue 

as never before 

was seen.

 

Oh, what to do! Oh, what to do!

Can any moment become 

an infinity in itself?

Can time be stopped 

and nothing else 

be added to this instant

But expand forever only

and  be deepened ?

 

Autumn

 

 

I

The wind in the autumn trees fills the air

With an ease that settles deep

Into the waiting land

Filling it with  the beauty it will store 

Through the times of chill and darkness

Just as it settles like grains of golden light

Into the widest spaces

Deep within me 

Where the expanse of earth 

And stars and wind and sunlight

All reside.

II

Here, in a last wave of beauty

Before bare winter

Brings its black and browns 

To linger soft against the  green of firs,

A golden tapestry unfolds across the hills

As full of light in pouring rain and flowing mists 

As when the sun breaks through in evening

Just before the dark.

 

Take it as a sign 

that we are here in light and darkness, both

Reflecting light through every pore

Storing light, as do the leaves.

Releasing light

In that approaching night.

 

This Girl



She is so tall now
Hair flowing down
in such luxurious waves
over her shoulders.

I cannot feel which rib
She would touch
If I were now to I pull her to me
And kiss her head.

She has cried and felt shame
struggling with a class
She sees only on a screen
Like the children’s programs
she has watched
In that same rectangle
For all the days
She can remember.

She has tried to understand
what is being required 
somewhere in a location
remote from any connection
to her heart.

Life was hard enough
to navigate at six.
Now this.

In captured moments of sheer grace
In the midst of lives
squeezed tight
by our designated protectors
she has taught me
how to draw pictures
of dresses and walking hearts
And flowers.

We, yearning to touch each other,
Peering over the edge
of what separates us
by thousands of miles
Hoping to see the whole of the life
That is trapped there
In the small flat picture
There before us
Made real by our imagination.

Yearning to smell the skin, the fragrance of the cooking
To turn and catch some glimpse
of what is seen by that other
that we take on faith
exists.

Trying not to say how much the pain of separation
Is crushing that space
within our chests
Knowing at each moment
we cannot hold each other
Cannot turn to see the life
In which the other swims.


She has taught her little sister
almost all she knows
They have played for hours in their tiny home.
She has driven her mother to cry
from exhaustion
and confusion
and fear.

They have hugged
and consoled each other
More times than could be counted.
We all are still alive
and growing.
Many now are not.

Hearts have been torn to shreds
In some infinity of variations
Over the eons of our existence.
How will all this pain
now transform us
As its waves wash all around us
In this ocean
of  existence.

The tide is crushing some here
And leaving some there
Safe to ride the next
Inexorable force
And try their luck.

What will heal and teach us
and which wounds
Will leave us
now too weak to stand
and pass our love
One to another.
And hold each other
And let real wisdom
Bloom.

Malik, Al Mulk

The universe is present in a footstep

on the soft leaf cover 

of the ground.

 

And with the next still muffled step, 

endlessness nestles quietly

in some secret expanse 

in that space 

I call my heart,

spreading with no bounds

in the darkness there.

In that exquisite hush.

 

A darkness that when truly sensed

Is yet the most intense of light.

Light before it becomes light

Light without source

 

Light that is filled with only light.

Where all the stars and planets whirl

In their silent 

and majestic flight.

 

There, in just that moment

of the certain placement of a foot 

on the yielding forest floor.

The Hanging Branch

 

 

A long branch
Hangs delicately
Hooked in some miraculous moment
Of windy flight.
Pulled towards the earth
With its mold of leaves,
But caught
by the branch of the tall, great tree
whose dusky bark
lit by the angle
of the dying light.
was once on the trunk of what had been
Itself.
Hooked by a small fork
Set in a new position
It had never yet considered.

When I was younger
Such seeming impermanence
Tempted me to help gravity in its work.
Throwing sticks and stones in play
to knock it from such uncertain fate
Dancing, joyous with the game of it.

Now that I am old
I see the way in which
Its graceful equilibrium
Is yet another gentle motion
In the flowing stillness
Of the forest.
And I sit and feel the quiet
Of its breath.

The Obsidian Knife

Remembering the Big Obsidian Flow, Newberry Caldera, Oregon

 

The black stone that is not stone but 

a piece of earth’s mysterious bowels

Astonished by its appearance in the oxygenated landscape 

Its molecules frozen in that millisecond of emergence.

 

We, the humans, see what it can be.

It is the knife that cuts both ways

Slices atom from atom

Parting astonishment from astonishment

So that we can slice so thin

That even flesh does not pause in its production of cell upon cell

And has no recognition of the parting.

 

It is like the bird,

Cutting the air for such a brief moment that

Air needs not know its passing.

 

From where has this blackness come,

From where this sharp flight?

What can we do but find it

Somewhere in the inventory 

Of the soul.