She’s been dead a couple of years,
my soul mate. Lots of people’s soul mate.
That was her gift. She belonged to everybody
and nobody at all. She was very much
her own woman or the Goddess’ woman
or at least a powerful woman; no less
nor more than I, myself; but still.
We are stratified into more subtle layers
than most people care to discover,
a bit of fairy dust really, and yet.
It matters less and less only we did
understand one another, and upon death,
suddenly our work comes more alive.
People are searching for answers.
Our passing reminds them of this.
I keep wondering if I ought to be shaking
bits of her out of my body, but where
then do I put the pieces? I who am
daily reminded of footprints and planets,
the excesses of my own species. And still
I am reluctant to see those remnants go.
It’s not that I cannot let her progress,
she is doing that splendidly, even now;
and images come alive in heartbeats
out in the garden by the clove tree
which could never cast those memories
into fires of forgetfulness, knowing deep
as sap the need for proliferation of kindred,
her now-forgotten mace and nutmeg.
When first I met you, bright-eyed one,
brow creased, corners of that small mouth
turned down in concentration,
trying to understand the mind of God
as if I might help you do that;
None you sought failed in this,
not even those blue foggy mountain ridges
where eagles soared above scanty
treelines, altitude heady even as it slowed
your increasingly ragged breathing,
beloved four-footeds trotting by your side
uncomplaining, ranging wide and low
over earth’s most sacred ground;
Each conifer holds in her tangle of hair
enough wisdom to stack all the ancient
philosophers on a ship bound for nowhere
listing heavily, as may be, to one side,
while Mother Nature holds court
on the other, no comparison, try
as we might to capture a fragment
of enlightenment in this time capsule
known as life;
But you understand this now in your place
of refuge, don’t you, smiling from
that small sliver on the great wheel
of continuum, and all those bored games fade
into oblivion in the face
of the knowledge you have gained
since residing in that Great Beyond.
Black is the color of undefined space,
of chasms so large many fear to fall,
inky background behind the night rainbow
void of busy-ness of day,
flowing cleanly down the split shaft
of an old quill pen, seeping deeply
into dimples of vellum;
Striking contrast, none or full phases
of lunation, back to black, again
and anon, ebony skin bejeweled
in glorious hues, unruly hair
and wild patterned dress,
cradle of civilization suffused
with damp earthen heat;
Unsterile, untamed, U as in unify, more
like u-turn, what did I miss, back to origins,
basics, unity in community, necessitating
blinding tonalities of white;
Born into a dusky womb, darkness follows
into death, settled now into the earth,
home we take for granted
until breath and water are gone.
I miss building huge bonfires, where, in the midst of 60 acres of Maine woods with good snow cover, we would set match to paper and twig, urging spark to flame, then fanning to a crescendo of conflagration. Stepping back to avoid singeing hair and nostrils, we’d observe flames consuming dead, heavy 4’ wet logs without losing momentum. These fires were big; too much for anybody paranoid about setting the forest aflame, but we lived in tune with nature enough to respect certain laws and boundaries. The process went on seasonally for years.
There is something about the contrast of icy skin rosy with sweat under layers of wool, the smell of woodsmoke and ash, flames shooting twenty feet in the air singeing tips of hemlock boughs, the crack and groan of expanding ice on the nearby lake, and the intense heat and raw energy of a confluence of elements in nature. It pushes everything else out; a cheating husband, an unexpected pregnancy, a friend’s betrayal, the fear of loss and change. There is nothing but action and vigilance and focus and presence, all desirable to me today as I ponder the ending of another year of life on this magnificent planet.
Today while riding my bike, I found myself building that bonfire, fanning and feeding it to a glorious blaze while tossing into its cavernous mouth each negative thought and impulse as it arose. In preparation for clearing a path for renewal in 2016, I smelled the woodsmoke, felt the heavy wool-lined rubber boots on my feet, wiped the sweat from my ash-streaked brow, and tromped out into the cold for more crackling brush. I was assured in the rhythm of slippery steps and a beating heart and heaving lungs that in nature abides the perpetual promise of renewal. And while most challenges I have faced down in six decades of life sneak in innocently enough, their transcendence roars out and through me like a bonfire. Or a lion. And 2015, at least for me, is going out just this way.
Perhaps 2016 will reveal unity rather than separation, as we collectively realize it is to this amazing earth we owe our life and breath. Maybe it will become clearer that working in harmony with nature and one another is the surest way to purge ourselves of the discomfort of disconnection. And this, dear reader, is my hope, as we step into the future together.
In a brief respite from being Me,
I discover possiblities inherent
in the unlimited; perspectives only hinted
at from far edges of consciousness
during the best of times.
In a momentary pause from self identification,
I sit writing this now, afraid without trembling
that what I sense will shimmy its silvery tail
right out from under my awareness, scales showering
notes on the page, lining up to the right
of the clef as order dictates.
In this brief wrinkle of time, reality unzips itself
to unfurl before me, infinity grasped obscurely
from atoms swirling out of an invisible projector
for milliseconds while the mind scrambles to crystallize
meaning into words to ponder, formulate
and solidify, solidify.
How I crave a liquid life, flowing fire
and streaming water forming steam, energy,
etheric matter scattering like jigsaw pieces cut
to order with undirected hands simply for the joy
of participating in creation.
Closing the door or chapter: the irony!
What is yearned for quickly rejected out of hand,
a cicada fighting to hold onto popping skin,
the unexpected folded twenty stuck absentmindedly
into deep wool of winter pockets, only to reveal itself a miracle
upon rediscovery the following fall;
Right Here. Right Now.
In the eleventh hour, perhaps, loneliness begets community.
Isolation flowers into fullness. Mind manufacturing excuses,
justifications, retrospective backstory, sliding doors, past
to present and over again, kaleidoscopically exchanging one
for the other, pulling up tent stakes and moving on
like Bedouins traveling over tides or shifting desert dunes;
Mimics of motion focused into cavernous wilderness
of intention, never domesticated, never satisfied,
and why should we yield to boredom?
What appears real, if not all of it, is none. Anything birthed
in imagination bursts forth into animation, a genesis story unfolding,
secret lives like insects in long grasses crushed underfoot
through sheer ignorance, or nurtured through recognition, examination,
What do I expect
as death approaches the air’s edge,
colors once borne by maple and oak
now displayed garishly on store manikins,
tight muscles and thoughts
that curl back on themselves;
Hunger for inspiration, the drawing in
of breath begging to be twice inhaled,
cupped hands, skin hardened
like tanned leather over bony knot
of muscles, woolen softness