The Streaming Rain

 

 

The path up the hill in the forest

Has been walked by so many feet

Both human and much wilder

 For so many thousands of years.

I see the prints of their passing. 

The mud vibrates with all of that life.

 

Today water courses down.

The rains of days and days streaming towards ground

In such sheets of clear drops

Onto the tops of trees 

Their leaves now open and green.

 

Dripping down through boughs and branches 

To leaf-mold and dirt below

 Seeking the places where the ground is lower

To run in streams

New and old.

All these droplets of water 

Desiring, as they fall

Yearning to collect themselves into one

Into stream, into river, into ocean

 

They must be together again.



And some human hand has made a small dam

Of rocks right here

In the gathering stream

And another just there to guide it

With gentle redirection, so sure

To plummet down the side of the gulley

Into a bigger  swift-rushing torrent,

Singing loudly there

Where it will not seem to make a river of the path 

Where humans pass.

 

But plunge on down streambeds,

Down hillslopes, to ditches,

To gutters, to river

To swell its waters

And bring the leaf dust and the soil that they found

 

 Thus make the waves of that water so brown, with such frothing

To stroke the banks of earth,  grass and trees

And caress the soil to come join them

 

Racing away in some wild heathen dance

To once again all be one

In that cold caldron of salt and sea creatures

That unending, immense

Soup of life.



The Negative

 

I pause beneath the dripping leaves

Chanting lines of children’s rhymes

 Happy in my walking time.

Then arching on  the crowded hill

 Lining through the pines,

 A ragged wave of silvery ash 

 Standing naked still.

The photographic negatives

 Preserved with those green  positives

 For that Grand Developer

To continue some great chemistry 

Of sun and soil and wind and time

That flows along with its own rhyme.

 

 

 

 

 

This Green and Luminous Fire

Spring rain can set the woods aflame

With that most gentle and successful fire 

That lights with life itself the bark that slept 

In meditation,  waiting

 

Green fire as intense and yet diffuse as love

That quickens and yet calms 

More constant than the moon and stars

In transformation, waking.

 

I’ve  walked the forests in the sun

And dreamt the dreams of these warm trees

Their leaves so firm and quaking

I’ve  kicked the brown mold on the ground

To send its scent, ascending.

 

But it’s in the warmish rain of spring

With the whole world  still and waiting

This softest fire sets alight

A deep internal reckoning. 

 

This green must burn my heart to ash

No separation lasting

It’s soft blaze sears away all lies

Its beauty, unrelenting

 

 

Winter Light With Birds

In the morning
It looked like rain in the air
But it was just the light
Crinkling through the little bits of mist
Here and there
As the sun broke over the southern hills

Now the warm areas of glowing light
Have settled so briefly
Along the tops of the hills to the east
Lingering for a few more moments in the north
Before fading into grey.
The air is dimming
Drained of sparkle
Quieting.

In between these moments of shifting light
The winter warmth radiated from the pure blue
And birds flew in all their crazy patterns
In the same world we seem to inhabit
But in another perhaps entirely
Ignorant of the thoughts of all of us
In these strange blocks of stone and wood
Not heeding our motions
Except in odd moments of curiosity
Perched on a wire, watching
As when we stop to hear the sounds
Of what we count as song.
.
Here we are. Our lives stretching out
This way and that way
Through the air.
On the wind
We sniff the fragrance of one emotion
Or another. A message across the room
Or across the globe
Thousands of miles
Carried by the light
By the wind
By the air
Random
Like the flights of birds.
Finding its mark like
The falcon
Soaring then plunging down
Through the warm
Afternoon sun.

 

The Dream

Swim I said, “Come swim  with me!”  

Tide shifts soon from dark to light. 

We float adrift in some vast sea

Where forms are hazy, lost from sight.

Here we dwell where even stars

In their nature are not bright

Seen through remnants of desire

Present only through some sense

Drawn from nights we spent with fire.

Time is done, this space untethered , so immense.

The forms of day can only catch us

By setting clever traps of pretence.

 

“Swim,” I said, “Come swim with me”

The passage through from night to night 

 Is sought in dream and memory.

Nothing hold us from our flight

Through dim cool tunnels drawn by tide

Concealed from senses smell and sight

Discovered only when we slide

Through some great hole unknown by mind

That travels inside to inside.

Here where we drift, we’re far from blind

This nothing is where sight begins

Here exists the unconfined.

 

Swim with me. “Come swim with me!”

Dark is drifting into light

Let us surface from this sea

Yet hold the vastness of this night. 

Let us slip the reins of earth

That grasp and clutch to hold us tight.

Swim the swelling of that well

In the silence calm and deep

Float where only being dwells.

 

dav

Breath

 

(A POEM FOR MY GRANDDAUGHTERS TO GROW UP ON)

 

Breathing.

Listen.
The world is breathing.

Breathe through your ears
Breathe through your eyes
Stretch breath out
Beyond the skies.

The ocean is breathing
Breath never lies
Its rhythm like wind
that soughs and dies
Speaks of the weather
where the water sighs
at the end of each wave
that the tempest tries
to smash on the shore
Without pity
contrives
to continue its swing
with whatever the moon tides can bring.

Feel what it feels
This huge enterprise
of breath going in
of breath going out.

The wind breathes
with gasps,
with sighs and
with songs.
Who knows to what
tense it belongs?
The present. The past.
None of them last.
Just the breath
Breathing the breath of the vast
Breathing along with the breath
of birdsong
Breathing the air
Breathing the light
Breathing along through the death of the night.

Breathing the phrases of music
on keys
of pianos and harpstrings
and in wings of the bees.

Breathe with it all
Breathe with it, please.

 

 

 

 

There Is Nothing That I Know

Wind rocks the top of cedar tree
shivers its thin, dark feathers.
The warm damp smell of spring
as present in air as warmth can be
in cool wind’s weathers.
My bones are cold as only
some cold grief can bring.

There is nothing that I know.
Yet this is what I know.
At the beach today
I saw land slide
Abruptly down a cliffside
Poured from above by some unseen shift
Its roar erased by waves’ unceasing sift
of water against rock, a symphony with the wind.
Suddenly pooling earth as if just another drift
of waterfall.
Then done and as if it must
Just let one more rock come tumbling down
smug,
still, as if it had  just been a pile of dust
all along.

A twisted tree atop another sandstone cliff
with roots that hold it fast and stiff
above the open air.
Along the forest trail huge limbs of trees
Wounds gaping orange here and there
In some time past
were there above me with their papery leaves
still clinging when I walked here last.
It seemed they had been part of living tree,
suspended
against the pull of that firm gravity
gracefully from strong trunks.

I see in memory the big wind
I hear its howl
but in this here, this now
they never were but
logs, limbs spreadeagled
among the litter of leaves
and ginger sprouts and beetles.

There was an ache, a dull burning behind my eyes
from some night past when I remember worry
burned like biting flies
Even as they saw those things in some slight flurry
of what seemed to be the grey light
of late slanting afternoon
Tohee chirping, hawk in flight

Now a memory, gone.

Is it now, or was it then I felt the warmth
of those sweet patches of air
as choruses of song
that seemed to carry messages of spring.
Is it now or was it then
My thoughts rise on some cold wing
Chill and bare.

What I know is that big things
are always changing in the wings
Of time.
Moving imperceptibly towards some shift
Mountains buried in the drift
of sand in winds
Rocks perched on cliffs while cities come and go
tumble from the years of snow
pressing in their cracks.
And become a hidden hill in some forest below.
While the smallest things forever in and around
find some quiet movement in the ground.

What I cannot see is the movement of these
smallest things
The stir of atoms of the air, dust of star and strings
of dancing proteins in each cell
Light that glimmers as if  at the ringing of some clear bell
in their shift from state to state

I know nothing of the great.
This is all I can know
Cedar shivers when wild winds blow
Earth roars swiftly down the cliff
Then is quiet as a drift
in streams of time.

There is nothing
That I know

Yet this I know.

 

 

Autumn 1968

In the space

of an upturning

brilliant leaf

cupping the clear air

on the dusty autumn ground

The entire universe spreads itself

Beginning here

contained and unbounded yet

It is born

 

Briefly

We had flowed into proximity somehow

in that enormous space

full of goods, full of desires.

 

We were waiting, chocolate bars in hand

to pay the cashier.

Her skin was dark.

Mine white.

 

I noticed.

I listened

to some resonance of this 

inside me.

 

“What is this noticing?”

 

The flavor of this mixed 

with the flavors

of a young man/woman

I could see

standing beside that display

of Swedish Fish 

and chocolates, 

but not, certainly

in any 

desired

association with it.

 

Rugby shirt

covering a muscular chest.

Tattoos covering

the light chocolate skin.

Tight braids covering the roundness of head 

in rhythms.

Intelligence twisting itself 

through those eyes.

Strength sending out waves 

around that body.

 

They had stood together, talking.

Now one on line behind me, 

one waiting

with the taut patience 

of a tiger.

Mother? Sister? Aunt? This woman behind me, 

chatting to a friend

then touched me on the shoulder,

a touch

vibrating warmly through my shirt, 

my skin.

.

I turned.

That chocolate any good? 

was the question, 

spoken plainly, as to one 

known, familiar.

And in reply, I, laughing,

said I didn’t  know.

 

I’ve never been here before.

Never tasted it,

I said,

but figured since it’s not American chocolate,

it must be good.

 

Chuckling, Yeah

she said, Yeah,  

not Hershey’s!

And I’m not even getting it for me.

It’s for my husband,

Yes, and mine’s for a friend.

was my reply.

 

What generous people we are! 

she remarked,

brown eyes smiling 

into mine.

 

Yes.

Yes, we are. 

In recognition,

that opening in my chest.

That greatness.

 

Turning to take my place again in line,

looking ahead to a  blond woman

busy

behind a metal counter,

heart still open to her eyes

behind me.

 

Friends had found each other for those moments

now passing with reluctance.

 

Those friends.

They are everywhere.

We have come here somehow

together

and flow into each other

casually

in this marketplace where we find ourselves,

wandering,

trying to remember.

 

 

 

Photograph by Brassai 1955

Art Institute Chicago

A Cantor deep in song of soul, lost.
Mouth open with the form of sound,
eyes closed to find the core of self
in some secret place
within.

The black of  a yarmulke blends into
sacred shadows all around.

Standing with prayer shawl
softly hung around a neck
tilted for some call to prayer
white wool fallen over striped robes
he wears to mark the sacred nature
of his song.

A tapestry draping the edges of the ark
glows with the reflection of some light
as if a mass of candles burns just out of sight.

A silence touches some
deep fluorescence.
The corner of a painting hanging
in the synagogue, a harbor for vibrations
of his song
suddenly becomes a window revealing clouds
against grey sky
the darkness behind the covering on his head,
the plump seat back
with white cover meant
to keep the tops of
those upholstered banquettes
of old trains
safe from grime of endless hands.
The tapestry, a fine coat draped
over a seat on which he leans,
belonging to a woman facing him
we do not see.

His sleep is one of dreams.
His mouth open
in that lovely relaxation
of old men.
The clacking of a train we do not hear
a sense of revelation
and that peculiar ecstasy induced
by long train rides
taken through an unfamiliar
countryside.