Monday, June 30, 2014

The Heart at Last Ends

Strawberry picking later but for now wordiness in the presence of clover that escaped the mower's blade. Red in summer dreams of death and who can help. We are always narrowly missing something.

What am I when you are not here to describe me? How simple the truth is vs. how complex the veils with which I obscure it is one way to say it. Cameras abound and Beauty is not yet compromised so relax into the gift you always are.

A sad woman an arm's length away brokers convention in order to demonstrate need. Enormous kale leaves and livid stems of swiss chard and enough shade in which to talk about the quality of soil in New England. We are all emulating the patient quiet umbrella maker.

You enhance my awareness of circumference. God sounds good. I mean long walks that go longer than you think and end in places that never imagined tea.

Decisions abound, or seem to, and what is broken is revealed as not broken, and healing becomes merely a question of seeing this. The emphasis on undoing can too readily be translated to outdoing, a flaw to which I am perennially disposed. Jesus insists on nothing, even when it rains.

I mean that dance and no other and preferably together. A grand alchemy in which the heart at last ends its obsession with otherness. How sad one becomes watching morning sunlight slip slowly up and across the rose bush and into the daisies because saying it isn't enough and saying it is all I ever learned of love.

The maple tree is unabashed by autumn is all you need to know about your own body. I'll tell you why we started singing: we listened to the sea and became happy.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Bluet Grasp of the Sensuous Truth

You know how dear Jonathan Edwards remains to me, yes? One lingers inside eighteenth century mailsacks with all the other yellowing letters composed in part with Isenglass. Snowflakes are secrets loosening meaning in slow-sifting veils one has to study closely to see. We will hold hands and walk out to where the low surf reaches our ankles and stand a long time before the meaningless empty horizon.

How wretched one becomes when they cannot burn their maps nor take a step alone across the ash. The hill was there for ten thousand years and I walked across it in a day, helped in part by a red umbrella. Breathe me into the insight you are. Word comes from Gettysburg, a mellifluous yes, a canyon filled with crystalline blunderbusses.

Fear no winter so long as I can still cut wood. I learned how to hunt and fish, and how to start a fire, but lessons about cars and tractors sailed through my brain August thirty-first. A bluet grasp of the sensuous truth? You fill me from midnight to moon.

I am as always reduced to words. Take no compass for a teacher and ignore the trains at 4 a.m.! Pulling a curtain aside to see stars at night as all undressing reveals the light in which longing goes homeless a long time happy. Fold of you enfolding me an Irish dawn unfolding.

Balloons to the south reduce me to tears. No lunch but how slow our fingers go touching under the table. Yet later in the shade one insists on cheese. A weighty loss redeemed in slumber, consenting at last to sleep.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Only What Always Is

Perhaps the question is how sad one can be before sadness itself passes and you arrive at what remains which is always only what always is. It's like we met just to learn we would never meet and so began a terrible lesson in emptiness. On the other hand, a field full of hawkweed under towering cumuli backlit by sunlight does make one dream of a westward turn. What I am saying is, don't give up, not just yet.

You were born so that I might find a use for mailboxes in poems, and I was born so that you might at last sidestep guilt in favor of writing at all. In my dream I show you the pasture, talking and talking, and you bring me to silence with a soft touch and we lean into a first kiss where the fence itself is toppling, at last falling into the tall grass while overhead a pale moon turns somersaults through glowing pines. Alone is a choice we make in order to more deeply perceive the one who chooses at all. How blunt I feel when asked again to dig a grave that another might grieve beside it.

I wonder if she remembers the vigil she held when I asked timidly would she? How much love can we bear? And just how specific must one be about anything at this point? I am unmoved by past lives, understanding now that it all happens at once.

In other words, this. Another fox attack, this one just before midnight, the chicken's confused cries fading as it was carried away through the fields. Oh heart or whatever breaks can you not bear me away beyond words, even for only a moment? Modesty becomes no body although context remains germane.

A vivid balance in which resistance at last ends. Before red I swallow yes. Be at last my heavenly guest? I carry the thought of her deep into the forest, and the forest changes accordingly, and in a thousand years someone will pass here - pause by where the trillium grows - and praise the sunset, the red west of loveliness blooming, and know they are home in all places.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Turn Inward Tighter

Hawkweed forty or fifty yards off, red the color I can never manage. Two days ago a pair of fawns tottering through unhayed fields and this morning crows picking the belly of a still-struggling turtle. Last night we stopped to watch enormous cumuli float slowly through sunset and I thought how often the sky resembles the sea. Going down is gone. Certain bodies are unsafe no matter what.

The canoe (red) slides into the lake and mallards discourse accordingly. The carpenter returns my call after two days and we talk about Bob Dylan in the early seventies. Afternoon spent gathering deadfall, dreaming of Vermont. I like your shirt and the way you don't care what it shows or doesn't show. Anniversaries are no longer part of the helpful context.

Clover, rabbit tracks. We make a date for a museum outside Boston and I wonder how necessary travel is anymore. At 2 a.m. a fox raided the neighbor's barn - foolishly left open - and the dog and I went out to check on our own birds, all safe. How bright the sky can be when the moon is hidden away. Two letters sent means you wait on a reply, like August waits for bears.

Antique chairs? One appreciates the inclination to render pattern a narrative and spends more time than usual studying the sprawling stream of the milky way. Bees abound in flowering dogwood. Why deviate from the teacher who teaches that only minds can join? Emily Dickinson always said turn inward tighter and stay there longer.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

In Gettysburg One Longs

A rainy landscape lit by fireflies. The dog and I move through it heavy.

One reconsiders Bob Dylan's work ethic, the propensity of the ego to make images and call them reality, and also what is loneliness. Tired boys elicit compassion, don't they.

Wild roses scaling the crabapple beg a camera. How fine a straw hat is when the sun shines, how lovely thunder when you can lower the window.

The feminine you multiplies. I remember driving through southern Vermont alone with coffee idolizing a way of thinking that was at best hurting only me.

Zafus sink in the sea when thrown there. Mostly I am aware of your effort, only sometimes the light to which it aspires.

Supposing the flow of fear were to find a new course, what would change? One can only wait on the mail so long before seeing at last the futility of time.

The brutality of certain crimes? The heart is a muscle charged with a task and mostly needs to be let to do its work.

Childhood was flavored always with "or else." You grow up, or out, or you go on, and what happens next, because.

He memorialized sadness, made loss into a God, because he thought that was what it meant to be holy. Clocks hide a wild truth.

Question the implicit faith in the functionality of all planning. One longs to be held in Gettysburg, one longs to kneel where you open.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Still North

Behavior reflects belief. Thought is not the gift. And true stillness consists only of the acceptance that nothing is truly still. North, always north.

Blossoms appear on the backyard rose bush, insisting that the only problem I have is solved, and asking would I learn it now. Tea in the old way, as swallows dive and tuck the blustery sky. Open for me, that I might better find my way to you. Awareness, emptiness, albatross, pine tree and - naturally - a mailbox.

The neighbor's rooster hoarsely cries. Ferns belie a nautilus curl never not attending. Naked is one way but there are other - more ecstatic - ways. He wrote in the back of a pickup surrounded by boxes of garlic and the sun that shone on him shines on you which matters.

A welter, a mystery, a train. Writing follows what insight? Settling in the new silence where trees alone can teach us grace. When is morning not a form of a hunger studying the holes in satisfied?

We all blunder on the way to seeing perfect now. Observe closely the parts of us that fit and allow the hymn its profligate organ. I wrote "survival" but meant "goldenrod" and so the sentence brings her closer yet. Oh come for Christ's sake where I can feel it too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Regret Stains the Present

The kitchen smells of basil and parsley, green shreds of which still decorate the counter, and the backyard fills with faint pockets of moonlight. Swans circled the bend and entered my field of vision, as later certain women would, and also men. Owls sing contentedly in the deep forest, the slow spiral of their woodwind vowels drifting like soot up the hills. Oh morning, you are never not on time.

Regret stains the present and I do what I have always done: write and give attention to what is written and then write some more. There is always the mail! Fidelity is non-negotiable or it's no longer fidelity but rather scrip with which to bargain. I am never not amazed at how one hears the river at three a.m. but at six it has faded in a welter of bird song and traffic.

Yet more tea while the dog at last relents and curls up on the bed to sleep. We studied the neighbor's gardens, we nibbled garlic scapes like rabbits. Symbolism evolves, novels are mostly afterthoughts. You wonder sometimes about the mind that first pondered the organization of sound and designed and built a flute accordingly.

Words, words and more words! Cats sleep on gathered laundry and one takes to the floor to keep their rhythms fluid. Behold the new sonnet, sketched on the teeth of the poor. We are keeping it tight in shadowed rooms, we are dreaming of lumber dreaming of us.

Strawberries and asparagus and the inclination to festivals abound. Bees in purple clover in the clearing where we sometimes go with blankets. Assemble the strangers? I mean be careful what you wish for indeed.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Now the Blossom I Am

Slowly one retrieves the writing, returning it to home. When I study the grass, I no longer see only grass. It is impossible to outlive our helpfulness.

Ants scale the chair where I write, chickadees hide in the blackberry bushes. The kitchen smells like parsley and garlic and when I close my eyes I see mushrooms peeking from beneath silky ferns. How gentle we are becoming, you and I, as if remembering at last what is love.

One watches the pale moon fade like chalk dropped in the sea, one shares the way with a lady bug. I walk alone as far as the old cemetery to sit quietly on a rotting bench and think about nothing in particular. You can't explain it, you can only move in it.

After, I said "I felt like I swallowed a disco" to which Chrisoula replied "I felt like we did in Vermont." I have followed cows down wooded trails, I have ignored the jabbering of men. Slowly I allow the writing to reclaim itself, which in a way is to allow it to lead me, and swallows are thus made my teachers.

I mean: bluets, clover, fleasbane, daisies, hawkweed, buttercups and pale wild morning glories hiding in the uncut hay field. Watts Brook rises on account of beavers and beavers come and go. One forgets about the mail, and it's okay, because communication was never so restricted.

Hammers yield the manageable distance. I stack quartz near the front stairs and sing quietly in moonlight my gratitude. Be not afraid and betray no glade.

Afternoon opens now the blossom I am all for you. Voices rise and fall, run the gamut from whispers to shouts, here and elsewhere the same.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Informed Quiet

Swallows trail across the sky, ferns extends to the limits of each frond. I know blue. Lilac now reaches even beyond the first story. Side yard gutters left untended fill with chipmunks and husks of seed. The bark of any tree becomes you.

Afternoons sitting by the brook, reading Wittgenstein, grateful nobody asks what I think. A conversation is an event, and events have effects, usually measurable ones. Want eclipses need, as any contemplative knows. More and more there are no words. Honeysuckle bouquet all over us.

I take Sophia the old orchard and the secret cemetery, both several miles into the forest at the edge of town. Instruments of regret compose sorrowful songs to nobody's surprise. Because we don't talk going in, we surprise the bears who tumble over stone walls away from us. Hills rolling west into New York where I literally saw Jesus but didn't realize it until several months after. Join the triumph of the skies, indeed.

The ducks chatter as we refill waterers. Chickadees assume leadership positions, as I am still learning how to talk without speaking. Emily Dickinson's swimmers forever push the bounds of going under. My muffled cries against her throat, her arms holding me in place long after, and then the earned - the informed - quiet. Not getting anywhere is the only way to go.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

You Can Find Jesus Anywhere

I lose count of the hawkweed blossoms and it's okay. Milk snakes unfurl like a monk's belt and near the cemetery summer's first toad scuttles the trail for rotting logs. Eighteen fifty was a hard year, fifty-one harder.

Tea while the chickens do their egg song and I write. What else is morning for? Clarity is a form of responsibility and at last one is ready to accept it.

Viceroy butterflies sun themselves near the garden, folding and unfolding in the stiff light until at last they rise and flutter west. Robin's egg fragments litter the lawn and God is near accordingly. I mean holiness pervades the whole of creation and I notice it sometimes and others I don't.

Oh beautiful cirrus clouds you are moving like well-trained draft horses, you are layering the moon in veils. Jeremiah and I discuss the feeding habits of bass which is to say we are strategizing, and getting near the hunt. If you can find Jesus in Frank O'Hara's poetry - and you can - you can find Jesus anywhere.

On the other hand, D.'s apartment in Burlington, eating cantelope after midnight on a ragged futon, nowhere near the end of the futility inherent in language. Spindly marigolds, a handful of violets. One waits on the mail and at last it arrives and all it ever brings is yet another night of wondering what tomorrow's mail will bring.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I continue to believe - and to act as if - I can think my way to happiness. Honeysuckle blooms, buttercups, turtles navigating difficult roads. Near the old bridge, a clutch of poison ivy, and in the forest moose tracks, which at times one feels they would follow into Vermont.

Trout, tomatoes, pickles and basil wrapped in dough wrapped in foil and baked in coals while the sun sets. There never was enough whiskey for the thirst I pretended to be.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Toward Emily Dickinson's Valley

All I know circles my head and floats like pollen toward Emily Dickinson's valley. Trout rise like silver buckles, kingfishers study me in turn. Oh grace, whose arrival is like a little mossy clearing come to unexpectedly, only ask and I will say yes.

We walk slower past the cemetery, taking note of the wild turkeys who graze in its southwest corner. Molly runs in happy circles when we pause at Watts Brook. When you turn east, be barefoot, because when you are barefoot you walk softer, and when you walk softer you remember God.

Sunlight through maple leaves fluttering in cool breezes. Red blush of clover from which bees rise like good ideas you didn't know you had. Jesus picks his teeth with a bit of straw and studies the chickens, who are indifferent to Rembrandt but not to Life.

You don't have to define love in order to feel love and that is what I mean when I say something is "inherent." Arguments about whether plants are intelligent make me sad, as if we are litigating the patently clear in order to avoid joy. My son walked a way down the brook and sat on a stone in the slow dusk, and watching his small silhouette given so fiercely to attention I remembered the stillness inherent in those who are given not to judgment but to love.

Later we talk about constellations and narrative, and how both turn on the hinge of image. We put daisy and dandelion greens in our salad and wondered aloud at the divine profluence. Who has studied garlic closely knows that Heaven resides in a lot more than grains of sand.

Take my hand? Our walks lengthen as they must, given all that we have now to share. Forgiveness abounds for those who are at last able to see the many brokennesses of which they have long been composed.

Distance dissolves now, or evolves maybe, and nothing that is gone remains gone, and nothing that will be is either absent or forgotten. I mean little poems tucked beneath buttercups, I mean how happy one can be, watching swallows sail through what we once called the sky.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Another Ripple

Angel faces fall on me, turtles lie crushed on the hardtop, and crow feathers sift down from rainy skies. A thousand buttercups remind me sunlight is neither cruel nor benevolent. We are all museums.

We are all lurching through time like popsicle sticks in a hurricane. She fell asleep against me so I studied the green yard and the bronze light beyond it. Dogs are the interior seam through which guilt and fear most spill.

Tin siding banging all night on the barn, until one understands it is a voice from the past begging forgiveness, asking attention. The dust rises whenever we kneel to write our names in it, doesn't it? Daisy this, daisy that.

Bring order to what is presently disordered and peace will come forward, it will elide. One's pockets disgorge pennies and cabbage seeds and gray lint strewn with strands of red. Throwing away untried recipes is a form of apocalypse.

On the other hand, I never made a single dish you didn't eat and claim to love. My father spent seminal years in a seminary. Last night Emily Dickinson drove with me in a car outside Northampton and we agreed I don't yet understand solitude.

When I unravel, she spools me, and last night she cooked a steak with ginger and soy sauce and we at it together watch reruns of 1980's sitcoms. Old men admire me when I fish, in particular my skills at casting. Perception is interpretation.

The red bird comes to me in dreams, hungry and tired, and I minister to it accordingly it. Oh for another ripple, oh for another star.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Storms Come First

After midnight storms come, first on blue winds whose layers undulate like unfurling banners, and then in bursts of lightening that hurt my skull. One pads quietly here and there, closing windows, admiring the distant luminous Sanskrit of fireflies. I remember long ago God saying "you want too much and don't know what you want."

So the Connecticut River continues to flow through Emily Dickinson's valley, so the eagles pass high overhead, like the thoughts that evolve after reading a fine sentence. The last of last year's tomato sauce on eggplant and basil, sprinkled with oregano smuggled in from Greece. I am working out a theory of kisses as spiritual landscapes and am unaware of anyone else in the field.

I mean low New England hills rolling gently east as the sun sets and how much larger any landscape grows when one need not circumscribe it with words. Dreams in which she says quietly after, "I did not think you would respond." For many years there was a guitar buried in my shoulder, and there is still a bottle somewhere on which my name is carved.

Well, we are all dreaming of trains these days, we are all imagining the promise of the interstate. One discovers a field of buttercups and briefly remembers a wordless joy. What if last and first are the same?

Her letters arrive at dusk usually and I don't read all of them, but the ones I do read make me sad, aware as I am now of how much must go unsaid. We stopped at Watts Brook to watch trout dart through muddy shallows, and when we went on my feet hurt. Where the road ends it grows dark and we push on or turn back and thunder attends our decision.

Blunders offend all imprecision? Always be asking what you can offer, and then offer it for Christ's sake. Philip Kapleau said - I remember sharing this with Dan during one of our last conversations - "confess your bad deeds and forget your good ones."

Is this what you want? My fury, my whistle, my kettle full of rain.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Blanket In Ancestral Snow

Blush of clover ends distance and She is here. This is the hill where I first wrote a line for you alone, love. We unlock the chest we have been carrying all these many lifetimes and it is empty of everything but the idea that we have to suffer. Oh how many times I have wished I could climb the cross instead of passing it by. We go on the way we do, don't we?

I see you in a backwoods diner drinking coffee, telling me how sad the waitress is despite her smile, while outside it snows, and I am grateful as always for the men who taught me how to handle bad roads because all I want - all I have ever wanted - is to get you home safely. How much I have missed while studying the ocean for signs of land! Magic yet again throws down its clutch of sterile seeds. We have to enter the spiral when it opens, we have to ascend all the way up. You are my door, my blanket in ancestral snow and would you catch the tears I cry in secret remembering old dogs because there are so many, so so many . . .

Namelessness abounds. I stumble past flowers I can't bear to cut, fighting the blue light that near my heart now threatens rain. Lakes in New York where we whispered kissing so our voices wouldn't carry. Oh Dan, there were times I would have fallen, there were times I only wanted to be held. Tell me you love me because what else can one say now?

Little poems to pass the time, like fireflies in darkness saying here I am, here I am. Certain fields I am always crossing, certain tractors are always breaking down, and you were always there, you were always lifting me, saying "just a little further, just a little further." What hidden abattoir must I now bring beams of light into? Rescuers are always losing something. I beckon, I put it into words, it's all I know and it's not enough anymore, is it.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Where I Go Homeless

One can only confuse roadside daisies with the moon - fading in mist overhead - if they want something to happen. I am dreaming of old farmhouses. The bedroom becomes a hermitage and only the dog can lead me out of it. Turtles crawl from the high grass and I kneel beside them, a little off to the left, straining for the sound of the breath they draw. This life, no other.

One creates by surrendering, as if they are the same movement. Gandhi observed that action speaks to priorities. Where the hill steepens, ferns lean forward with knowledge of what precedes New England. Yesterday I watched a fox race through a field as if chased, though nothing followed, and the silver lines of its body remaining in the air long after it was gone, or seemed to. What blue light will save me?

Fiery striations of sunrise return you to wandering. Some teachers - the best ones, maybe - don't even know they're teaching. One keeps dreaming of upstate New York, as if a gift were there waiting, as if Jesus were wrapping it personally. Wavering at yes, knee deep in no. We met with foresters to discuss building with wood from our land and left happy. Lady bugs settle on my belly and go where I go homeless.

Putting it back together over tea is a way of being married. I cry more than I used to and my smiles feel earned, if I can say that without sounding like an idiot. Mowing down bluets because there's more where those came from is  not a sign of anything. Dead horses abound. How tired I am of semantics and poems, of everything arranged just so.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sappho Yet Again

The night's writing is gone in the morning, and those are the nights I love most. Intention matters though not always the way we want. I see hearts constructed of bluets and straw, strands of horse hair and fragments of baling twine, and in them delicate yellow eggs I long to candle, the better to remember that the center is everywhere. Lilac when you go, okay?

Well, at one a.m. or just after the old dog and I went outside to see the moon, one day beyond full, bright as the world's last television. You can hear the wind where it begins, you can see where the light bends to enter the eye. Reheated tea, friends on the west coast "just saying hey," and waves breaking all night without any sense of a shore line. Healing begins in honesty, as all images emerge from what longs to remember it is whole.

The front yard maple trees were filled with the moon, as I was filled with their hushes and shadows. It was a good dream when you slipped into it, sitting in the corner, asking again would I explain to you death. You can pick your psychology, pick your philosophy, you can pick whatever expression best fits and so what's the worry? Her bathrobe slung over the chair nagged at me, the way a certain trail sometimes does, or the memory of bears.

The thing about being alone with the moon is that it is never just you and the moon. One wakes humming the soundtrack to Annie and so gives attention to the point where orphans entered the narrative. Fall River, Massachusetts, you are never not altogether absent from my thoughts! One sips from the sea when kneeling at the delta, one says everything more clearly when in love.

How I love those places where the rain collects, and the birds come by to bathe, and you feel like reading Sappho yet again. Oh honesty, why must you accept so many masks? When you played Fur Elise everyone in the room grew quiet and I tasted a little of the stillness I am presently allowing to unfurl. Thank Christ for L sounds, and blueberries and geese.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Blend of Longing and Intent

Morning arrives in a mood, rain as fatalism, yet readily eclipsed by the move to write about it. The green world reveals itself and not all travelers are happy to visit. Study blueberries and milk snakes if you want to know Christ.

Is stillness simply the absence of want? Complex aural threads allow one to make contact (mostly wordlessly) with that which longs for resolution. We are not science so much as scientists.

Want breeds conflict and this includes the desire for an end to conflict. Try this: nothing is inherent. What is the brain but resistence embodied?

Night passes and the clouds don't break and so the full moon - the last of its kind in this lifetime - goes attended only by wordiness. Thought evolved to tackle the impossible and - failing as it had to - declared victory and that is the whole problem. The part of me that resists sleep has a secret of which it is ashamed.

Folded blankets on which the dog rests, dreaming and twitching. The first button undoes itself, the rest we manage in a blend of longing and intent. I have always mostly made love slowly, gratefully finding my way by touch to the only altar that matters.

My God how it hurts to see so clearly the war I have waged on Heaven. You fall and fall only to learn you can always fall a little more. Stop searching for a flailing that exhausts itself!

A landscape is a kind of script apprehended only after we abandon our investment in decipherment. You start with empty, you start with open, you go where the sea is darkest.

Friday, June 13, 2014

In A Mailbox Waiting

A long walk through fields in which daisies cannot find themselves. Salvation passes, eighteen wheelers humming in the distance, clouds falling like half-drunk grandfathers. There are chord changes that only make sense several bars later. There are funerals, stolen bouquets, and Christs who hang twenty years on their crosses. Oh lift me won't you on your strong and holy shoulders skyward?

Rain again. "Send me dead flowers to my wedding/and I won't forget to put roses on your grave." Oh how happy back roads make me, unfolding to as far away as  Kentucky. Is it possible some pain you never surrender? Because of you my soul sleeps quietly in a mailbox waiting for a letter it can't itself compose.

There were days that began with whiskey, nights that ended in a veil of fusty promises. Poor lonesome stranger indeed. Upholstered chairs that have seen more miles than me encourage a religious disposition that - as yet - I have refused. What do roses know about limitations that you don't? Mama I got those infidelity blues again.

How many dogs have to break my heart before I learn I have no heart? In my dream, libraries burn, and whole languages are forgotten, and still I can't find a real silence. Dan, if you are reading this, please write, I am so sad and lonely. You can't agree to death, you can only refuse life a little longer. A poetry of rest, cold water, kisses that bring you all the way to where longing ends.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

In A Semantic Way

One awakens to rain at the window and the old dog on the bed, a breathing, a weighty comfort at one's feet. Was it always this way? The forgiven aren't prone to analysis, which probably explains the stacks of books that define where I sleep.

We are neither badgers nor tomatoes yet when pressed to explain the distinction can only fumble in a semantic way. One wakens to find that peach pie they baked as a peace offering yesterday is half gone. House plans litter the table, as if we are finished with understanding home.

J. and I kick at leaves, lean against resinous stumps, pick at threads of a familiar - a family - narrative and call it work, call it clearing the forest. The rain slows and finally stops after our walk and so the hallway smells of muddy boots and sodden fur. I mean certain letters my fathers saved, and some he didn't send.

I wonder aloud what persuades the first bird of morning to sing and Chrisoula says "it knows it is light before you do." I mean the suprising absence of bluets and the dog's sad eyes, which find me wherever I am. The birth of philosophy was the death of us all but God still gives us trout.

Disgraced by price or simply willing to let others pay the price of your (unimpressive) righteousness? The afternoon brightens and passes, like a bellows, like an enormous Godly lungs unfolding. We are moved to kisses by falling water.

A holy sentiment, most holy of sediments. The days are given to polishing garden quartz, collecting yet more deadfall for backyard bonfires, and reading Marsha Norman. Some women want you to hunt for them, others to simply cook, and some are just happy you can build a fire when it's cold.

Gratitude is a way of being more than a response to what transpires. I drifted slowly into sleep on the quiet music of your knitting needles, briefly amazed at how much happiness we sometimes allow.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Whispery Professions of Love

An abundance of cardinals, visible most clearly in the maple trees near noon, and thus my heart composes yet again its willingness to open and receive the dim blessing. Wordiness amplifies doubt. Silver rain falling so we turn to coffee, poorly-worded apologies, and dreams of ruined harpsichords. Where did you last see the fatal container?

The Rose of Sharon struggling in new soil, mirroring my own struggles, or so I say, being inclined to both drama and metaphor. Stages abound, as do cardinals and - lately anyway - rain. Yet the waves wash in slowly over the sound and one takes a certain comfort in it, one takes a certain joy. Walk with me a way?

Or did I mean to say walk away with me! F. and I buy home-baked cookies - unusual in our personal economy - and eat them while driving home. If I could describe Jesus in one word it would be "flexible" or maybe "pain in the ass." The coyote eyeballed me from fifty yards away, wildly unimpressed, despite my whispery professions of love.

We are presently assembling the materials from which Heaven's gate will finally be constructed. Union also abounds, as does upset and long ambling walks through country cemeteries, a forgotten - a narrative - joy. The dog is old suddenly, and so once again I have to face my crazy inability to be sad and to grieve. In general, my plan is to garner attention without actually asking for it, or even appearing to want it and most of the time it works but lately I've been wondering what I mean by "works."

Once you've seen noon clearly night is no mystery. The black raspberries are coming in slowly, little green cones on towering bushes, and I remember last year's insight that one should never be so invested in pie that they forget to leave berries for hungry birds. The milk snake unfurled slowly in the nest box and my daughter asked me to bring her a shovel and I thought, okay, I've done something right. We withhold the very light we need and then wonder why it's so damn dark all the time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Faintly In Yet Wholly Beyond

Midnight rations glory. Would light matter half so much as otherwise? Who composes only in silence has yet to learn the song that is faintly in yet wholly beyond the world.

Perhaps, but I would rather from my silken tower go singing naked all the way to the dusky beach and rippling water. Milkweed rises at the field's edge and I dream of Monarchs thusly. When we do not go to the woods, the woods are still there.

The future is murder but the only way we know this is because the past was murder too. Give attention to verb tenses! And study Socrates carefully in order to be most benevolent when you discover the crumbs beneath God's table.

Cold poems left in sunlight turn to water and shed a prismatic encompassing grace. It's not a house, it's a home, and it's not a home if you're not in it grinding coffee when the sun floats up from the mountainous distance. Oh for the love of lilies and dogs!

The heart is a drum used by the brain to make up the lyrics that make God laugh. Rabbits under the bird feeder mean foxes in the part of my brain that likes to think life can actually end. You aren't here but you aren't there either!

While bird song at the window unexpectedly distracts from me from teaching and the students laugh. Interpretation is what we have to deal with! Light passes through maple leaves to find me dreaming of secret kisses, each a small tremor in the rush of God's attention.

For a little while longer this will necessarily include bodies, and trails to the river, and brittle envelopes into which handfuls of dried flowers might one day be pressed. I mean the vellum I am longs only for the sea.

Monday, June 9, 2014

In My Arms

Imagine axes. I mean imagine ringing, not roaring, and the scent of pine and honeysuckle unhindered by gasoline. Wrought-iron roosters gaze North as if to say that is where the storm begins. And the small rain down can rain . . .

All night opening envelopes filled with moonlight, studying the fireflies up against such darkness. The question is not whether to write but whether to stop writing, and the distinction matters. Does the lilac bush rest after its brief violet flourish? Goldfinches after the sun rose, dandelion down floating in the air, and overhead the same rippling cirrus I remember loving in childhood.

We enter the forest one way but leave another. The flagstones darken, and the snakes retreat to nests beneath the porch. Longing for Gretel's sensibility may mean that you lack Hansel's fortitude. Listening to rain at 3 a.m., asleep but not asleep, and sketching - yes, sketching - sentences for the day's writing.

It is as if a door were opening somewhere over the sea, slowly but steadily, and from it unfurled a tidal spool of light. I am tired of reading about what I experience. Is it true then that the time for learning is ended? A woman from Hawaii writes, invites me to visit, and my heart lifts like a dogged butterfly in stormy winds.

One struggles to identify the ultimate contingency, the ultimate cause. A focus on breath is never entirely unhelpful, though one can attach to anything. Read all about it! Oh Christ that my love were in my arms . . .

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Heart of What Has No Heart

At night one swims naked in the black ladle of the Big Dipper, imagining whales light years away. We sit in circles wearing masks of long-dead dogs, stoke a high fire, and sing songs we don't understand. I've left every Golgotha I've ever found but my legs are starting to get tired. Perhaps this will be my "summer that wasn't."

So we transplant the Rose of Sharon, we study the backyard rose bush which has maybe gotten bigger but maybe not, and we wonder what God would render bluets so tremulous and brief. By three a.m. the rooster is unshelving his raucous welcome, and by three thirty I'm walking along the brook, wishing I could do so in a way that didn't frighten so many deer. Melted mozzarella on tomato slices dusted with basil and oregano, and laid in a spiral on a bed of roasted garlic and olives. Always the sound of shirts falling to the floor, the mattress's creaky orations as we settle into its levels.

And horizontalings of light? J. and I cut wood all morning, coming out of the forest hungry and sweaty, pine dust in our mouths and chainsaw grease in the creases of our thumbs. Certain fences were meant to be scaled, others honored, and the distinction betwixt them must never be confused. Perhaps I will visit Paris one day, or you will return to Boston and tell me you are there and when, and we will walk the way we did in northern Vermont those many years ago, all night long and into the bright afternoon, getting closer and closer to the heart of what has no heart.

Or not, I never know and maybe can't or wasn't meant to. I sat by the window until well after midnight, happy to receive so much mail from the moon, waking a couple hours later to walk and pray and write the way I do. One wonders what debt they are paying with such sleeplessness and verbosity or is it perhaps the love to which Emily Dickinson made such rich and mysterious reference? I can still see you in faint candle light leaning over me holding your hair back and how all of Saint Louis then filled our mouths, its river singing becoming glory.

Oh how lovely the choral platitudes of breezes stirring the summery shadowy maples! Oh what gratitude is owed the summer's circling fireflies, who cross every line on every map I ever drew! Oh you queen in my country of turtles, rising so early to lay your head on my shoulder, and gently pointing out where fear still lies in wait. Oh morning of all mornings, when twenty sentences are not enough, and one is too many, as always.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Inevitable Spiritual Seamstress Attends

In the morning a heron flies, buffeted by winds, bent south with an intensity I rarely associate with herons in flight. It is good to leave, but good to see that there is nothing to leave too. Teachers abound when we open to them, and in that way - that openness - the real teacher can at last step forward to instruct us.

Lately, studying the backyard rose bush, sneaking coffee on long drives, and putting away my books, I realize what a fool I am. Or have been? It doesn't matter is what you learn, at least not the way you want it to.

The work is not to perfect ourselves but rather to perceive without judgment that which hinders awareness of our natural perfection. There are no past lives - only this life in myriad forms no one of which is beholden to time! Become aware of that to which you attach and love it the way you love butterflies because why not?

Hours punctuated now by bunnies, seven of them scurrying through the side yard to nibble dandelion, tumble over stones, and drink from the gutter extensions. At dinner we fuss over translations and practice our Greek. Maybe it was never about writing at all . . .

Well, before dawn the brook percolates, and from the early light a preferred teacher does step forward. Let me not be torn asunder! And yet I was, and will be, and thus the inevitable spiritual seamstress attends, efficient and whistling, unimpressed with injuries she sees all the time, no matter how eloquently I talk them up.

Broken robin's eggs, deceased moles, all of which I bury at the garden's edge near marigolds. Bizarre - and apparently immune to alteration - sleep habits cannot undo the rest offered by God. I wake to write, and write to wake, and try not to get too worked up about when.

On the other hand, there does seem to always be another hand. I mean attentive bluets, I mean forget-me-nots as you go.

Friday, June 6, 2014

33

If God is in all things and all places, can there be a place where God is not?

Only the idea that God can be other than what God is can actually obscure God, she says.

And the obscuration is not of God but of awareness of God.

She was the one who taught me that attention was in the nature of a gift, not scrip.

She was the the one who taught me that attention – gently and steadily given – yields awareness.

At night she sits by the window and watches the sky.

She folds and refolds the quilt she uses for sleep, when she consents to sleep, which is rarely.

God is the trillium and the bluet, when one is aware of God.

God is the lover and the husband, when one is aware of God.

I make a small pot of tea and we drink it in the barn.

Rain falls quietly and swallows arc and swoop above our heads.

When the desire to know God is awakened in us, it is an actual manifestation of God, because what is indivisible and eternal is not particular about name or form.

Trust what works without fail, and do not allow yourself to deviate.

The history of the barn is a form of resistance – the stall where the horse was shot, the stall into which the last Massey-Ferguson was retired.

When I close my eyes, voices filter out from the past – men's voices, sometimes harsh, sometimes tired and slow.

She begins to laugh.

Looking at my face – on which whole stories are written – she laughs.

First you seek, then you find, she says.

And in the meantime there is tea.

In the meantime there is rain.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

32

In the morning we walk east before turning north at a trail head few people notice and fewer people use.

The chicory there is a deeper blue than the sky.

She walks slower than I do.

It is a question of care, a question of attention.

She laughs at little things: a leaf falling, a moth fluttering back and forth through invisible breezes.

She sighs sometimes too, most often at animal tracks on the trail.

So far I have taught her to identify the trail of deer and fox and moose.

It is a woman,  she said of the deer print, tracing its edge with a crooked finger.

I tell her how sometimes in summer – after a dry spell followed by sudden rain – the prints will fill with water and a little honeysuckle or pollen will float in them.

She nods as if she has seen this, too.

Happiness is the self looking only to itself for revelation, she says.

When you desire only God, you have found God.

The desire to know the absolute needs no translation.

She puts a hand on my shoulder – reaching up – which she does when she wants my full attention, which I am learning how to give.

That is the only way, she says.

We are standing on the trail – half a mile into the forest  - gazing west to where the ground begins its long slope towards the unnamed brook.

We can hear the faint music of water, a steady thrum beneath the spangled song of unseen birds.

I know if we do not move from this place – and do not speak but only breathe quietly and steadily – we will see a bear.

It is walking towards us the way a rose unfolds so slowly you cannot perceive its movement.

It is walking out of the invisible stars to the earth where so patiently and happily we wait for it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

31

Before dinner we step outside.

Soft winds unfurl around us, coming mostly from the south, turning the leaves on the maple tree in a way I remember from childhood means leave the forest quickly and find shelter.

The clouds above us deepen and elide, many shades of blue and violet, and softer hues closer to rose.

Here and there a hole opens - like an envelope tearing or a river rushing its banks - through which a gold light pours, and towering cumuli are visible, and one grows silent and still before this evidence of such holy and perfect cathedrals.

Earlier she said that all spiritual paths begin with a perception of lack and thus reflect an effort to fill that lack.

If it is the right path, and if one is sincere in their attention, then the path evolves so as to correct the perception of lack.

When we become religious, we consent to a journey that goes beyond all churches, beyond all crosses, beyond all princes and - yes - beyond all teachers.

Carefully, I study dandelion leaves for tell-tale signs of hungry rabbits.

I straighten as a blue bird - unusual so far from the open fields - passes quickly, going roughly north.

The last of the apple blossoms have fallen.

What will I do when it comes my time to fall?

What have I done before?

The wind comes and goes and I cannot see it.

I only see the hint of its passing - blackberry bushes swaying as if under the sea, maple leaves bending away from their stems, the swift passage of rain-filled clouds.

I recall the soft indentation of her feet in the grass, earlier and how it did not last, and how she waited patiently for me to study this and see it.

I know we are always in motion, that all things are but the One Thing folding and unfolding, but the knowledge brings me no comfort.

And it is comfort for which I long, still.

In the distance now, thunder.

All this I give to her and she says: "when you are honest you are both student and teacher at once and so learning becomes effortless and natural."

She takes my hand and we stand together quietly, facing the gathering storm, and what the storm is not.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

30

At dusk a hummingbird half the size of my thumb visits the last of the lilac blossoms.

I watch it feed for longer than one would think possible.

The sun sets, and stars come out: some that I know, others I don't.

What do we mean when we say God?

Or west and east?

We become religious and a journey begins that ends far away from all churches.

In the forest, one kneels before the trillium, and prays where the brook turns, seeking lower ground.

What do we call it when one becomes willing to make contact with infinitude?

When one sees the inclination to name anything as itself an evasion?

Darkness permits some light and not others.

And it is always dusk somewhere.

I tell her I am afraid that when she leaves this time she will not come back.

I tell her I am not ready.

There are no envelopes wide enough to compass my fear, no letter frail enough to bear the shades of my gratitude.

It does not concern her.

When the hummingbird is gone, it remains.

When the light fades, another light comes on.

She walks lightly but I can see the impression her feet make in the grass.

For a moment, rather than follow, I watch the grass rise slowly in her tracks until you cannot say who passed or when.

Then I go on to where she waits, still and quiet, a little while longer yet.

Monday, June 2, 2014

29

At four a.m. the rooster begins to cry.

The line of sky to the east brightens, a soft light that is first blue before deepening to orange.

Study the nature of fire, she says.

We are sitting by the back fence, watching chickens scratch the grass.

I cannot find that which does not make her happy and this too is her teaching.

The passions rise in conflagration but always descend into ash, she says.

And ashes are born always by the wind toward the sea.

We are quiet then.

Later, I bring her tea sweetened with honey and raisins dusted with nutmeg.

There is a time when one is called only to seek that which is eternal and unchanging.

There is a time when one is called to make contact with the Divine Will.

To do this is to set aside names and status, including "the Divine Will."

To set aside ideas, including those about "the Divine Will."

One perceives the light of morning everywhere.

One perceives the company of those who are here only to help the ones who yet perceive themselves as lost and forsaken.

Fire pushes itself, she says at last, as if discovering this fact for the first time.

Fire is the reminder that all forms are but the One Form - which is God - endlessly folding and unfolding.

Her hands open and close like a heron settling in its nest, like a bluet opening at dawn, like the doors to an old chapel that nobody attends anymore.

I sit without questioning, giving attention not to what rises and falls, what folds and unfolds, but to the action of enfoldment, which is beyond enfoldment.

And the day passes, and night comes.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

28

Last summer my twenty sentences project was given briefly to the light of a particular teacher. The first piece I wrote under her tutelage is here; the final one here. I don't know how long this new sequence will last.


In early summer the moon with no ambition comes.

The moon that wants nothing passes slowly through the sky.

Passes slowly through the sky and grows still.

And the violets beneath the blackberry bushes are beautiful and not beautiful.

And the trillium in the forest and the dandelion by the road.

The bluets come to ask about my anger, ask about my fear.

The bluets come to ask about my grief.

And when I kneel to answer she is there.

And when I rise without clarity and yet untroubled she is there.

She does not speak.

She does not ask me to speak.

In the morning we walk to the slow-flowing brook.

At dusk we walk to the brook.

When the dragonflies come she holds a finger out to welcome them.

When the hawks sail high overhead she stops, folds her arm and bows before the sky.

This grace.

This breath of holiness.

Do you see, she says at last, how the sacred envelope widens to allow the message to find the ears that are ready at last to hear?

So my dreams fill with light, each ray filtered through a tear-shaped prism.

And the moon, and moonlight, and what is passing, and what does not pass, ever.