Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Certain Lonelinesses


If you ask about sleep: poorly. Or thinly, maybe. Often when I sleep it feels as if I travel, and last night was a long road on which leaves were falling. It's better now, after walking and with a coffee nearby.

When I don't want to write - as now - it's because there is something I don't want to (or just can't yet) say. I woke up repeatedly and looked at the clock, as if worried, as if . . . what? And talked to you as I walked - literally out loud - not really wondering, is this okay? Certain lonelinesses are more than I can bear, at this time.

Better but not by much. I can't really handle the writing, but I have to handle the writing now. Nor do I feel safe with the need that is becoming obvious. The distance is a blessing, but for me it is starting to shrink, or fade.

What does that mean exactly? Maybe I am a leaver but what are you? I don't leave so much as fall back and watch from a distance what I believe I was never worthy enough to have. Nor can I stand another loss.

Each sweetness unhinges me a little more. Each sentence carefully written somehow reminds me it's okay. Or it will be. Though when, I cannot say.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Nurturing Ground

One walks just barely ahead of the many stories that forever tag behind.

The moon was a dim blur behind rain clouds, growing dimmer - like certain memories (and unlike certain other memories) - as the walk continued.

Killdeer settled in the hayfields spook away as we pass.

And half a mile later the beavers remember to thunk the fire pond with their heavy (tear-shaped) tails.

"Orgasmic" was the best word, actually. Revelation is intensely sexual - or perhaps it's better to say that intense sexual experience approximates (poorly and briefly!) revelation. Hence desire, hence repression, hence et cetera. I talked to a Buddhist monk a long time ago about celibacy and he thought about it and then said, giving up sex is not hard when life itself is ejaculatory. My own efforts to describe revelation have failed precisely because I'm sensitive about using "come" as a verb in mixed company. In other words: your point was well-taken and not in any way mis-taken.

Be patient with your lust, and its absence, and try not to judge its various incarnations. We aren't bodies, but we aren't red-winged blackbirds either, and we manage to love them just fine. I appreciate a tall glass of cool water after walking and guilt doesn't enter into it so . . . like that.

Some of the stories mentioned a few sentences back are painful and insistent. For example, I told you my cousin has four sons but in fact she has three - Jayce, Braden and Patrick. I woke up the other morning (the morning we made up), and thought: why did I imagine a fourth brother? And then felt very sad and empty, thinking: I know why I added the fourth brother.

Right now I'm making coffee. The last of last year's winter squash is on the counter, fitting as we this week begin nurturing ground for the new garden (the new community). The twentieth sentence, properly understood, is the end of nothing.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The True Ecstasy


You forget the moon sometimes, or I do, and then when you see it - as this morning, through the flowering dogwood (which is still working on leaves, never mind flowers) - you are caught up, you are surprised. My literary theory was twofold: first I believe that writing heals ignoscency (attentive writing does anyway) and second, in terms of aesthetics, I believe in parenthetical afterthought, which is a fancy way of saying it's okay to wander in search of what you mean and the right way to write it. Last night I may have added a third: it's a way of saying I'm okay in the face of insufficient (in terms of both quanity and tenor) opportunities to just say so aloud to someone who cares.

We are - to me anyway - a kind of writing project. Mostly a writing project? I was this morning brought up short by the moon - still relatively high off the western tree line - and looked for a star upon which to wish but then turned back to what I was doing (feeding chickens, filling bird feeders, pissing by the rose bush, looking at the moon, etc.).

When one is writing privately, the writing owns the quality of a diary. When one invites a special reader, it perhaps assumes the tone of disclosure. I am less aware of the image, for example, and much more interested in being clear, understood and in getting to something - what? - that resists being known.

That impulse intrigues me - the one that longs to be clear, as if to brush away dross to better see a source of light. But is clarity naturally inherent in anything? Our relationship - our mode of relating - to certain spiritual texts also intrigues me.

I suppose to that list one might add, "the terms of inherency," which is kind of a code for truth, which is what I am lately bent on. I predict you like the private writing less because it is less coded. Also, please know that I have long considered us a spiritual community (of two, but subject to expansion for the right brother(s) or sister(s), despite the distance, and despite the many externals which appear as blocks (like everyone, we are learning to see the blessing behind all form - and "all" matters there, because it is the absence of exceptions that renders anything divine).

I collect bottles on my walks, when I find old ones, floating up through the soil after rain. Our Christmas tree is cheerfully growing, each limb adding a soft - and unspeakably beautiful green - extension and so it's time to plant it. I like your relationship with the word "settle."

I also liked talking to you yesterday which, despite the urgency, had a sort of easy and simple kindness to it, which one might say could helpfully be the terms of all relationship. I am more comfortable with God as unknowable - one recognizes the unknowable and does not resist (by trying to know it) but rather melts into it, into happiness, an inexplicable oneness that is the true ecstasy.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Next Long Walk Through Creation


I walked this morning trying to choose which writing to write. Distance is an excuse for avoiding what would awaken us. The only time I was hurt, truly, was when you named me at the end, and chose the wrong name. Well, but it was right for you, and that was always the purpose.

We stay up while the kids play in the other room and talk. Death - dying - unites us that way. The waning moon rendered starlight thin, but walking is less troubled with a little light. I am grateful for the ones who take me outside familiar patterns, even briefly, and my gratitude doesn't end simply because we fall back into more manageable roles.

Need of any kind - mine or anyone else's - frightens me. The call is to attention, and honesty, and away from the specialness of "nobody really gets me." When you finally learn how to be alone, you learn that direction actually does matter but there are only two: outward and inward. It's not the body that's problematic, but our ideas about the body, and in particular the idea that it owns - and is not separable from - stories.

I never chose to be a writer, but I did choose to be an attentive one. God does not think apart from us. A lot of people who read me - in particular women - have a dream of ascending beyond their body, outside desire, and into some poorly defined light. And that's okay!

Last night my sisters and I talked about our cousin (whose diagnosis breaks my heart) but really we were talking about someone who died a long time ago, and whose death has always been "my" fault. Some stories are harder to tell than others, that's all. So long as we insist on credit for feeding the poor, we're left with crumbs. Thus the next iteration, the next slow unfolding, the next long walk through Creation.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Particular Invitation

At 4:30 a.m - or thereabouts - the birds are already singing. Joy is never out of reach though it can own a certain sadness. How do you know what you are doing is right? When you've convinced yourself the whole point of these bodies is to make mistakes and learn from them.

I long to merit a particular invitation but longing of any kind is simply a childish refusal of Heaven. One walks to the fire pond in order to sanctify a certain conversation, one types outside in the morning and - at 4:33 a.m. - remembers how cold it can be in early Spring. And yet. The moon does nothing really and we love it anyway, we way it reminds us of her.

Bohm urged a certain attention to enfoldment which - once perceived - lent any activity a certain "it all work out eventually" vibe. Your comment about cadence was well-received and I choked all night thinking on it. I am here, as always, in the only way I know. Like moose tracks in early Spring, like the otter, who watches from a distance as I walk slowly, musing on the word "swale."

At 4:39, one wonders if writing the twenty sentences outside was a good idea, or a declaration of love - otherwise no longer mentionable - or simply a kind of penance. Name a blessing that's gone unfumbled and you've left me out! Cars zoom by on 112, mostly going to work. And the birds are getting louder.

He once wrote "I don't want to want you the way I do but I do" and it's still true, but differently. How much learning can one manage in what we call a lifetime? Please remember that when I thought you were not well I dropped everything and reached out despite not knowing if that was acceptable or even potentially harmful. I'm not walking, I'm writing, and at 4:44 wondering - still, even now - if it's okay - or ever will be again - to say, "hey, you."

Thursday, April 25, 2013

We Fumble The Blessing


One steps outside and see the moon, full and liquescent, sinking into rain clouds, which are silver and dense. The body moves and something trails along behind it, both delicate and pure. The neighbor's rooster tries its voice, settles back into its perch.

When the sun rises later, I will be writing and teaching and driving. Yesterday, walking home the long way after several hours of meeting, a pine branch fell and landed near me with a satisfying thunk. And I saw clearly what was wrong and what was right and resolved to heed the interior guide.

Yet a mile or so later, passing the cemetery where I have dug so many graves, I forgot the truth altogether, and the guide or God who gave it. Something - a deer perhaps - was pacing in the hay field, little more than a ghost. I do imagine, John, all the time, and nobody ever shows up to help!

Loneliness is a consequence of relying on the external. Sartre was right about that God-shaped hole. Thus the mail, which never quite arrives the way we want.

And yet, and yet. The dog stays close as if sensing what is truly needed. Near the brook, we pause, and for a few minutes the cool air seems to hum, seems to whisper, and I forget altogether my conflict with prose.

One sketches an outline for a community of resistance, a community that nurtures. Sometimes I see so clearly what needs to be written, and other times it's like I'm blindfolded in a closet. Perhaps I'm a fool for even trying.

How I have grown to despise the highway, that ribbon that exonerates distance! We fumble the blessing and grace arrives anyway.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Glimpse Of The Luminous Voluble Center

We enter the forest late - the sun bright on our shoulders - and push it forward. The trail unfolds as yesterday, quartz breaks the soft yield, and chickadees articulate the perennial warning. What is distance but a poor way of defining Heaven?

Cellar wells and spring sites where rotting staves release their rusting bands. Stories arrive like skunk cabbage. On the ridge, deer freeze and let us pass, mocking our ideal of stillness.

One yearns for the old clarity, dimly remembered, and commits to paper what they recall of its tenor. Mergansers circle the broken cattail, then disappear in flight. It is a game, until it is not, and then it beggars description.

Jeremiah asks when the newts will come, and the sunning turtles, and the fireflies. The frog eggs are here, already torn at by hungry crows. I tell him last year's dates but caution against reliance: one never knows because it all depends.

And later we all knelt at the flat rocks where I prayed and cried alone when Jake died. A beaver once floated past this spot, eyeballing me from the slick currents, making me smile. We note how each Spring the brook returns to form, as if there really is a reality that can be once and truly known.

Bukowski is right that our songs about beautiful women don't matter all that much, though we - him included - still sing them. Coming home, one waves at the neighbors, admires the daffodils and ponders aloud why the church bells are ringing. Our voices rise like little balloons, pierce the veil and offer a glimpse of the luminous voluble center.

So a little work remains. It is the purview of angels, and the least amongst us.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lapping Gently The Distance

I am trying to write about it. I want to but the words aren't there. What is given in love assumes many forms. That's close but not it exactly.

It has to do with the slow bend, like a river. What is smooth has borne time gently, like a stone, like a stone in a river. The space at night of watching stars alone and knowing you are not alone. How can I share this?

It also has to do with what is pale and warm, like the wild morning glory tangled in grass as spring turns to summer, and the fawn you find nesting there once every ten years. One longs to be worthy of her, there when the calf died, there beneath the bridges of Dublin. Held just so, the curve of the shoulder intimates the luminous circle of eternity. And of course those who dwell in the spinning cones of language long for that which brings them to silence.

The swans that summer watched as I swam, the water rippling as we circled one another. In the middle of the day is when I'm loneliest. The necks of horses in sunlight. And Ireland, where I held her as she slept, and listened to the sea lapping gently the distance.

Words won't do it. They simply lay a trail that might - in this world or another - be followed. The Pieta moves me less than the loveliness of what she offers. It's not this, it's something else, always.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Raked By Insatiable Hunger

One steps outside - beneath Spring stars - and she is there, waiting. The lilac bush extends the rigid folds of its leaves, smooth and hard as the carapace of June bugs. Chickadees shift in the shadows of pines. You walk and she follows, speaking quietly.

The brook quietens in late April. In the forest, rocks groan, pressing the soil and close up, the fine silt of their effort glistens. One longs for the moon in the presence of stars, one heeds the interior gnomon. The dog races ahead, fanning east to west in a broad arc, and sometimes tracks back, as if to ensure the center remains in motion, pointed north.

She compasses what distance cannot manage. When I am not with her, I want to be, and when I am, I long to be at the temple her presence suggests is both tangible and near. How long must one stumble through the marketplace, coins falling from their fingers, raked by insatiable hunger? Near the pond, at last, the sweet cry of peepers, the call to creation, electrifies what is forever outside the senses.

The past is never not at hand, and what is new is always being forced into ideals. An empty bookshelf is perhaps a sign of wisdom! Coming back, one pauses to admire the milky way, the semen-colored strip of sky, the great seam one longs to open, the loveliest proof, the most intimate design. She takes my hand, she offers tea.

As always, lonely is what lonely does. I make coffee and come to my corner to write. The sentences lift me, each its own breath. With her consent, the dense matter of my body continues its affair with form.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Sort Of Compass

There was a softness to the sky this morning. Little lights - more like little clouds - seemed to sift down from it and float along beside me. The trees were quiet, as if pleased with a season of creaking. When the dog scuffed to cover her piss, the noise made me start. How can you not name the stars?

Contemplation and service is the mode. The gift is not for speech, but for knowing speech's limits. I was reminded yesterday of the hermitage at Agape House a few towns over, and how D. joked with me one time there was more sex in it than any other place on the property. We don't want what we think we want. That which is external (that which we long for) can function - at best - as a sort of compass, directing us to inner peace.

In other words, nobody has to do anything but pay super close attention and be grateful! The Shaker cook book (a surprise gift from C.) provided hours of reading at bedtime. What did men like me do when they weren't allowed to work in the herb garden and write poems? And yet what I wouldn't do for Mother Ann Lee, those eyes . . . Thank you for elevating my literary poverty to riches, if only by association.

The coffee boils, the old cat staggers into my shins. Twenty years ago I saved him from death in a now-forgotten city and he's never not said thank you, in a deep and sustained way. The Easter candy from my parents gathers dust as usual. Tell me it's okay to write for you still. We hang by a thread, we figure it out.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What Is Finished

Ice in late Spring. The crocuses folded and dull.

Honesty is what allows Christ to enter and extend what is forever given. You have to work at loneliness.

The hills are slippery, the cold bracing. The dog chases something deep into the forest.

When you came to me, I recognized you instantly. The blessing we give is the blessing we receive.

Chickadees stir in barren trees. It is not you.

Morning after morning I set out for grace. Day after day I scratch at the map I was asked to leave for others.

I am the one who follows the trail as far as it goes. There is no scripture but the one we create each day in love.

We cannot bear the grace that is offered and so we call it sex, or poetry, or sister. It is not enough to say you are broken and offer a reason why.

The weight of illusion is surprisingly tangible, isn't it? Please see how undoing is not your accomplishment.

These notes allow what is finished to be over. What is new is without need.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Internal Traveler

This morning walking my face filled with rain. It was cold as the third body arrived. I thought it was my brother - come to say he forgave me - but it wasn't. It was a wolf, crossing to my right, sleek and gray and strong. My fingers trailed across his pelt as he passed.

We leave no tracks despite our efforts. You don't want what you think you want, you only like thinking you do. It's okay. Maps were made so that all distance would appear manageable. Nothing's as dreamy as an empty highway.

But only the internal traveler matters. I am tired of symbols and people who need them. And yet. And yet Saint Francis remains the guide, watching from over my shoulder. "Do it again, beloved, do it again."

When I was a child a ladder dropped from the moon and swayed in the light like a current. While I watched he climbed, and fell and died, and my father stopped speaking to me for two decades. You're welcome to Jesus and if I can help you find the way, I will. But I want something else and look for it every morning. Meanwhile, he lies in the grave I made him, dark and silent, without intent.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Put-Back-Together Heart

Took a darker way today. You have to sometimes. In the distance - west - the train was loud and seemed to get nowhere. I stumbled into the brook, hurt my right hand on a rock. Bear laughs at two-legs: I'm going to eat you up!

I am known for my sense of direction, blessed with some interior compass that often translates to the larger question. The one who never loses his way is desired most by those who are lost. Yet leaning on pine trees obscuring the trail, breathing heavy and holding my arm, I did wonder. Be careful when you start using the phone. The only lies are the ones you don't see coming.

Bear follows: rank and wobbly and wild with hunger: the blood on my hand calls him. Owl sang close to me, song of the jilted lover, the put-back-together heart. Too much sleep means too many dreams. Nobody dies but every body folds back into the great fund which is never not in motion. You learn by looking inward, not by romanticizing strangers.

The hurt hand won't bring me coffee or hold lanterns or write poems. Bear sits outside on the brown grass and scratches his balls and wonders who made the stars and why he always wakes up alone. What went unmentioned until the eighteenth sentence was that Song, my dog, went missing on the walk. What has haunted me since time began is very near now, like violets in a clearing. At last I invite Him in and he talks and I listen, I listen, I listen.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Try To Be Generous

When I first started writing the twenty sentences, I mainly wanted to please Douglas. After that, I wanted Bhanu to read them. She did (because of the sunlit room where we did not turn our eyes from each other?) but never said much. I had no idea where they were going. I still don't.

In general, the people who are actually "you" are confused about how that works. I don't mind. Two women have approached me about certain sequences, believing there were secret messages. I won't say there weren't. But it's almost always no fun trying to take that stuff out of the sentences and into what we call the world.

I think it was about a year ago when I began to consider the brahmodya, and how a piece of writing could be the awakening it aimed to reproduce or inspire. I mean: could writing be noumenal? That which I call God is never not in attendance, for better or worse. But the broader purpose of the project remains elusive. As I am.

A lot of people are doing something similar, at least half a dozen of whom make a point of staying in touch. People are always asking me how to write. I try to be generous but often feel I'm doing more harm than good. Writing is never what I want so much as a reflection of what I have and am. Naturally, I'm glad you like it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

How Else Can One Manage

Without sleep, in light rain, I step outside and walk towards the brook. The air is soft and full, and the mountains are just visible against the earliest hint of dawn. I can't believe I am here. I never can.

You woke early and came in to talk, worried as always at the hours I keep. Without asking - noticing what - you tucked yourself behind, pulling me in to lean. I have been thinking of the beautiful cross you gave me years ago. It settles me.

And later, eating sliced apple and garlic, talking about F's recent trip to the dentist, I said casually - for how else can one manage - "I am writing about him again." Your map to this place is extensive and rich. "Have you made it to the end?" you ask. I am broken when I answer, "how will I ever know?"

The brook slips up across rocks that just a few days earlier were slick with ice. I find deer tracks in the mist and kneel. Last summer they filled with rain and honeysuckle blossoms floated across them. We earn our grief, and we enter the temple alone.

But these twenty sentences are for you - here when they began - and who years ago said, "I don't need to see the grave until you're ready." When we made love this morning, a third body watched over us, and the dark-eyed Juncos and chickadees became one bird. Forgive me the many miles I have insisted I take on my knees, and the unworthy companions I confuse for guides. How sweet these apples, how nourishing this tea.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Forbidden Heart

One longs for the royal glance. And more crocuses. The chunk of quartz I found on West Street and carried three miles home on foot, a story Chrisoula tells everybody. Look at the strange but beautiful man I married. Well, what did you expect when you asked for exile?

What's interesting is what becomes of us and whether we can keep up. To be honest I got nervous thinking it had to do with my left and not my right hand. Details matter! Did you notice that in both our stories we cast peace aside in favor of the body? Gutted indeed.

What song did I bring with me to the world and which were here to greet me? I can't wait for my first look at mist on the pond this spring. Duende. Most people don't even want to help another. Please be the one who doesn't ask that this be easy, okay?

I used to lie below the window with her, learning the language of trailing fingers. She drew in the margins of my poems: turtles who stared into nothingness, ladders strewn with roses. I fully expected to go down and not come back. One finds God only to hide him again in the forbidden heart. It's an old story: I die of thirst while she wonders: where did all this lovely water come from?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Certain Rose

Some morning I cannot find them, the twenty sentences. The stars are in the sky. In the fall, all the apples trees will grow apples. What is wrong with me?

What I remember of hearing about Kenya was the unexpected clarity of the air. Fathers don't always know best and often aren't given permission to be hungry. Well, that's six. I like the shape of things: dogs, cardinals, pine trees, the moon.

In love, one assumes a learning posture. Speech patterns shift and everything - even the mail - becomes an opportunity to know again the sacred. One can trust and even lean on the verb "to melt," so long as they understand it literally. How rich she is, and how variegated!

Often I understand lies only after I see what I've said. Please disregard any stories about my mother! It's true that I digress. But what does one expect from the only public member of the school of parenthetical afterthought?

Other patterns shift too: you ask for a certain favor - a certain rose, say - and they won't do it and you wonder: why and will anyone ever? In the world of form, never is a distinct possibility. But when I ask you are there and you give whatever is asked. Here, for example, is the twentieth sentence.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pennsylvania Was Dear To Me

One yearns for the nectar and - in the yearning itself - tastes it. Or that is one way to think about it. Walking this morning, the moon rose only as I was almost home, as if to remind me I am nearly out of time. You. Always  you.

And yet not you. Others come, holding books in which certain pages are written in a language unfamiliar to them, or wondering if I can nail the heel  of their shoe back, or wanting me to see they found their lamp. It's okay. Late - but not too late - one moves into the ideal of service. Hiding behind maple trees, Jesus elects not to come out because the need at last is shifting.

The dog rolls in fox scat, returns home sour and marked, and so you know it's Spring. You and I have different relationships with airplanes, but not flight. Near the end of your life, sister, what does it mean to have made this a practice? The unbrewed liquor is not unavailable. Here's what you can't say: when you dance with your husband, he's the one who sees me better.

He wrote, needing to write, but also able to just sit with desire. If you want it, ask for it, and then accept that it is already given. That's what he meant by knock and the door shall be opened. Pennsylvania was dear to me before you mentioned it. Don't hurry is almost always good advice.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Little Bruised, A Little Shaken

One enters the night a little bruised, a little shaken. That story about the calf just barely came out and still I got it wrong. It's really a story about trust. Would you have kept me at the top of the basement stairs, not allowing a last goodbye? Would you have forced me to help dig a grave?

Sweet Christ what I wouldn't give to never hear the word "burlap" again . . .

The answer, of course, is you would not do those things because your purpose is to heal - not hurt - me. But ask this fool to trust that . . . What happens when we let go of our last precious story about the separated self? That's what it means to pull back the veil. You stop screwing around and you look deep into the last and darkest shadow.

Oh, and the abyss . . . it is my symbol of hell, of which you are perfectly unafraid, and which you hold for me patiently until I'm ready at last to gaze into it. I'll need both your hands on my shoulders then. I may need to fold a little into your strong body too, especially after when I'm ready to sleep.

And so far as the walk went, I stumbled along familiar trails, eyeballing the stars and listening to the neighbor's chimes. My insides settled slowly. Just shy of brook, I heard an owl in the distance and broke a little smile, thinking, I wish you were here, you would like this too.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Slow Naked Shuffle In The Moonlight

Somewhere between three and four a.m. you entered the room, a mouthful of hot tea. I sat up in my sleeping bag, unsure if you needed to be held or were simply responding to a need of mine, as yet untended. It was cold and I shivered. You sat in the corner, trying out my writing chair, then trailed your hands over the books I am reading, then lifted the candles I keep and turned as if to say, you didn't tell me this . . .

While later I stepped outside, brought up as always by the clear sky and cold air, and most certainly entered - or meant to enter - your own space, where you slept, and I knelt beside you in the inchoate darkness and prayed fervently for your happiness and wordiness, not necessarily in that order.

Well, that's one way to think about it. Another is that I hate walking east now because you are west and there is only so much distance I can stand. Or this: one writes now before one chances to read the other's work, lest the resultant gushing be fatal. I mean, really. Love poems at this juncture?

And yet, and yet. Somewhere near the brook, Jesus stepped out of the woods to remind me to listen to the trees. The crescent moon floated low in the sky, a glimmering fish hook dragging empty seas. How many treasures I have been given and refused to open! How many times must the Lord whisper before at last I go home? The trees creak and sigh, reminding me there are longings deeper than mine and - oddly - making me grateful for my stubborness.

Wind had blown the kid's sleds into the neighbor's yard, so I carried them back. Then I took my clothes off - yes I did that - and did a little dance in the side yard, a kind of unsteady tai chi that included a deep bow to all four directions. By the end I couldn't think I was so cold - and still somewhat sleep-deprived - but you get the point. When I am in my seventies - I promise - I will do a slow naked shuffle in the moonlight for you, decrepit but willing, honoring again our broad and luminous circumference.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I Do I Do

At 4 a.m. half an inch of snow had fallen, coating the daffodils, and making the ice in the driveway more slippery. I walk quickly, head down, listening to the wind. There were voices in the trees, or so it seemed. I was mortally tired, as these sentences will attest.

After a week or so of moonlight, how dark it suddenly was! I actually collided with a hay bale and fell beside it in the snowy mud which, after giving it some thought, wasn't a bad thing. I pushed up and leaned against it for a good cry. You start thinking about all the women you've known . . .

Ah, but that's an old story now. You don't get led to the secret hill just to make yourself feel good. Or so I said to the dog, who seemed agreeable enough, and led us back home the long way. I reheated yesterday's tea and scratched her head while she ate.

Somebody's got to walk around with open hands. Somebody's got to figure out how to work a lantern. The country of turtles can be lonely indeed! As always, the cardinals are both a solace and a joy.

Halfway to the brook I remembered Elango up in Burlington saying, "your problem isn't intensity man, it's focus." Twenty-five years later not much has changed. Go write this, says Jesus, go write that. And I do, I do.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I Often Stumble

And so at last the twenty sentences become what they have always wanted to be: a love letter to her: the red bird of my heart. Welcome to the country of turtles. And: twenty sentences are not enough.

Without my glasses, the moon has a distinctly blue outline, and the stars too are blue, and I often stumble for all my looking up. Rain clouds pass overhead in bunches. In the distance - west - the train whistles, guttural and sustained - on old tracks abutting the river.

You. Always you.

He writes happily in the little room where he sleeps alone, never beneath the covers, usually fully clothed. Sentence after sentence, the way as a child he moved little stones and sticks around in the dirt outside the barn, telling himself stories. Think about your titles more, consider them daffodils that spring from a vital bulb, not summations, not street signs. And yes: asking. Always ask.

I stop by the pines where months ago I mentioned the sweet sound of the wind there and you thanked me and so now they are our pines. This is how my life - how any life - becomes holy. When she apologized for the way she had talked about Jesus he thought: who?

I caught glimpses of you in the fall, mostly while teaching Dickinson. "Might I but moor - tonight - /in  thee!" Though I do not long anymore for wild nights so much as quiet mornings of prayer and writing, and a long walk after, holding your hand while the wind blows in off the lake.

I took you with me this morning, showed you the maple trees budding despite the cold, and ask again: my darling: what else can I give you?

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Freedom Both Of Us Want

While she slept, it rained, and I walked around the house, listening happily. One writes from a place of interior poverty, each sentence like a mouthful of straw. Yesterday's silence ended in a just-bearable sweetness, a gentle fumbling like the first time you bake bread. Some days - some sentences - are like that.

Often, in all the words that spill and topple, I cannot find you, and that too creates a certain yearning. The house is full of stones from my walks, as if I am trying to bring what is outside in, as if that were possible. Adding a fourth sentence to each stanza lends it gravity. I trust you.

The robins are back, filling that bird-shaped hole in my heart, and reminding me I am only really here to write. The risk is that one reads to learn but never learns to see. What you understand about desire is what I have too long confused with power. Maybe.

I think often these days of the monks who fled the monastery for a woman, and wonder how it is I have studied so much of their work without every realizing that particular shared quality. One looks to the body for guidance and ends up on dark road, barely lit with stars. The man without shoes bends his head against the rain. When we buried the calf, we wrapped it first in burlap, and that burlap has never left.

The Romantics got a lot right but they got a lot wrong, too, and I think we need to remember that. Is there an order in - or to - desire? I love you. And threaten the freedom both of us want for you.