Darkness Before the Dawn

Humbled by an ending
which is only the beginning,
I slowly row my boat toward shore,
but find there is no safe harbor,
no spit of earth on which to land,
so I gather up oars again; not time,
not yet;

I know but don’t know this ephemeral
relationship with the calendar, conflating
ever with the now, and now, and now,
pulsing possibilities inherent
in the fullness of living;

There is a wider vision, copious
in its offering, and it stills me,
remaining silent as all possibilities
converge and congeal, darkness
always preceeding the breaking
blue grace of dawn.

all photos of Pololu Valley at daybreak
©2020 Bela Johnson

Solid

Trembling gently in twilight,
rippling like a mirage,
what seems solid during the day
becomes otherworldly by nightfall
when things left unresolved
return to haunt the living;

Important then to honor passing
dreams, full-blown stories once told
to the very young, remembering that
which they could not yet apprehend;

Take heed to flights of fancy,
diamond secrets borne upon the back,
then spilling forth and landing
like rocks from the sack.

 

Whisper

Before the brief but long breath of lifetimes
was profound silence, and if sounds were apprehended,
they were but whispers compared to the chaos most
have come to accept as the new normal;

Before memory, arrived humans and wild creatures
and whooshing winds, lapping briny waters caressing
pristine sands strewn with strands of brightly frilled
emerald kelp, thundering waves lashing rocks
and promontories, scooping away scuttling crabs
and tiny bright fishes marooned in sun-warmed tidepools;

Our hearing has become dulled and a rushing sound
lingers when din is relinquished to wilderness, eyes
maladjusted to nighttime perceptions, fearing darkness
despite the thrill of a million stars blazing overhead,
hoot of a horned owl or the scream of panther, howl
of coyote or swooshing bats in flight;
all the world is calling our body back into unity
with itself, we, the lone wallflowers standing against
the school gymnasium wall, forgetting the dance
all have been summoned to, worried and frightened
and oddly secure in our fragile and fraying cloak
of invisible self abnegation.

Bela Johnson photo: taken from the top of Hurricane Ridge, Olympic Peninsula, WA, 2019

Etheric

ETHERIC

Activate, move! Directions barely registered
in that middle place between worlds;
life in the ethers more familiar, more desirable
than this constant adjusting; bold when she
should choose circumspection; equally
withdrawn when action seems desirable,
imperative even, in the face of those who wait,
feigning patience as though expecting something,
anything, while she remains frozen inside,
tears rolling down pale cheeks, filling roles
chosen by others so that she might survive
the duration of some unknown tenure;

When finally it arrives, that inner direction spills
in surges, haltingly familiar as once-bluster,
then streaming forth clear as spring water,
filling chasms in the incomplete puzzle
form she inhabits, firming up pathways once
simply perceived, interstitial patterns, linked codes
scattered randomly in pitch dark possibilities;

Some say a path is chosen, while others claim
destiny guides, yet in the end (which is likewise
a beginning), one is motivated by forces
only barely understood much less named;
so a deity arises to fill that void, our human need
to attribute, a magic mirror to ask and receive,
and all is well and right; sense is restored, proper
place and timing imbued with meaning,
while mystery, in all its splendor, endures.

Unity

The sea rolls out and cannot pause long before
once again seeking the safety of the shoreline;
children leave home until they sprout sturdy wings
of their own, only to one day return older,
perhaps wiser, with appreciation of rootstock
and richness of the nurturing ground;

Fingers of the infinite, we jump ship and land
on foreign soil, forgetting, longing to return
to that One Magnificent Tree from which billions
of branches have cleaved;

Yet why do we yearn for reunion before we have
fully experienced the capacity and magnitude
of a multidimensional self which ever informs
the One, expanding it, enlarging its own ability
to conceive a more colorful body of light?

Oncoming, Ongoing

I don’t know how I swallowed the myth
that life would ease with age, itself,
the oncoming traffic of debts
and obligations never slows; in fact
it seems sped up as we work at carving
out time away to regain sanity lost
in forgetting that all is illusion;
still, the gift of distance allows us
to recapture tender moments that now seem
luxurious in the face of ongoing fatigue;

Meanwhile the lens of memory narrows
until I can view naught but the carefree,
the careworn falling away into mist,
an idyllic life in the woods on a lake
and the ability to shut the world out
once I turned down that dirt road;
the young mother I was then, growing up
alongside my girls as I watched
them pull away into worlds and circles
of their own, bit by bit, until college
conveyed them to a distant shore
for the remainder, running headlong
into partners and jobs and college debt
as their own pirouettes began turning
in the dance of independent creation;

Now I find my own rhythms in gardens
or creating art, meditation in motion,
an outlet for emotion; still I ponder
escape, a prisoner in Paradise, even
as the fount of gratitude fills
back to overflowing and imagining
a better life anywhere else dissolves,
the image shattering, the tinkling glass
falling in shards around my feet
as I pick up the fragments of my future
to compose them into a mosaic
for visions yet to be apprehended.

Cosmos

The world cries out for Mother;
fast food and high heels can
never get us back to hands
in earth, in soil, rich firmament
above, dark umber below; heads
in a clear azure sky and feet
on the goodness of ground;

On the ground we may feel,
can sense a pulsing heartbeat,
the oneness with all; there is
no disconnection, sky from soil,
tree from root, sentient beings
one from another, we all crave
nurture, a lasting sustenance;

We may do others a disservice
when expecting them to stand in
for the Elements, arms seem to
come up empty every time; people
leave our lives, everything changes,
so much loss and toward what end?

Meanwhile as long as we draw each
necessary breath, this dependence
automatic, the Sacred awaits our
intentional participation
in this ecstatic cosmic dance.

All photos ©2019, Bela Johnson