Poems

The SPIRITUAL POETRY Class

SUMMER 2022

with Zhenevere Sophia Dao

"Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence."

                                                                                                       ~Audre Lorde

Wallace Stevens

(American poet, 1879-1955)

 

The House was Quiet and the World was Calm

The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The reader became the book; and the summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.

The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,

Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be

The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.

The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:

The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,

In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself

Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

Commentary: "Music falls on silence like a sense," Wallace Stevens wrote, "a passion that we feel, not understand."

 

 

Sappho

(Greek lyric poet; c. 620 BCE)

World

 

I could not hope

to touch the sky

with my two arms.

Commentary: Notice how strangely these two inadequacies—the fact that she lacks hope, and the fact of her merely two arms—become their opposites: the very experience is achieved in the articulation of its impossibility.

 

Giuseppe Uncharetti

(Italian Hermetic Poet, 1917

Morning

I illumine with immensity.

(translated by Zhenevere Sophia Dao)

Commentary: Ungharetti wrote this literally in the trenches of World War I. What I find so interesting from a spiritual point of view is how, sometimes, our spiritual and psychological resources emerge only in the most abjectly despairing situations. In the Italian, the grammer functions both actively and passively, in that the poet illumines himself and is illuminated at once. It's difficult if not impossible to translate this mutuality of inner and outer power and grace.

 

I Live My Life In Growing Orbits
by Rainer Maria Rilke

I live my life in growing orbits
which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
but that will be my attempt.

I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,
and I have been circling for a thousand years,
and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm,
or a great song.

tr. Robert Bly


Autumn Day,
by Rainer Maria Rilke


Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days.
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander on the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.


tr. Stephen Mitchell

 

 

Dantika

(6th-5th Centuries BCE)

 

As I Left My Daytime Resting Place

 

As I left my daytime resting place

on Vulture Peak,

I saw an elephant

come upon the riverbank

after its bath.

A man took a hook

and said to the elephant,

"Give me your foot."

The elephant stretched out its foot:

the man mounted.

Seeing what was wild before

become tame under human hands,

I went into the forest

and concentrated my mind.

(Translated by Susan Murcott)

Commentary: Dantika was a Buddhist nun. There is something incredible humble about the intersection of the significance and the insignificance of human religiosity. Her "meditation," or her one-pointed thought, her concentration seems at once noble in spiritual ambition and a humble recognition of human action within the limitations of history. Humans dominate wild things and wild places. The religious study the significance of that. Her response is active and passive, it seems to me, in equal degrees, and this fascinates.

 WEDNESDAY, JULY 13TH

Archaic Torso of Apollo

Rainer Maria Rilke - 1875-1926

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Commentary: I spoke (a few hours ago) in the Saturday class on Negative Capability, about the Post-Daoist concept of Awful Inferiority. In this poem, the statue before the poet's eyes is so consummated in internal and aesthetic power that the work of art effectively challenges (perhaps even shames) the poet into the inspiration to become fulfilled. The poem's thunderous last line leaps out of anything before it, without preparation or explanation. In other words, the poems is the actual experience of the spiritual crisis reenacted in words.

Slow Dance by the Ocean
Linda Gregg
(Twentieth Century American)

The days are hot and moist now. The doves say
true, true, true and fly lovely all the time
from and to the tree outside my window,
not quieted by the weather as the cats are.
The dogs bark only when there is a stranger.
The world moves, my Lord, and I stay still,
yielding as it passes through. I go down
the path to a bay that holds the ocean quiet,
a grassy place with oleander and broom.
When evening comes, things are clear delicately
until all is dark except the water, which is silver.
The sea takes me at night while I sleep.
During the day, memory is the pull of its huge
center. I have my dress to wash and lamps to clean
in the coming and going of time. I dance as slowly
as possible in the fields of barley and weeds.

Commentary: The recounting of such careful dailiness makes a ritual out of being, where the poet is no more nor less than nature and the effects of nature, like "the water, which is silver." Here plainness seems to justify the sacred.

As A Possible Lover
by Amiri Baraka (American, 1934 – 2014)


Practices


silence, the way of wind


bursting


in early lull.  Cold morning


to night, we go so


slowly, without


thought 
to ourselves. (Enough


to have thought


tonight, nothing


finishes it.  What


you are, will have


no certainty, or


end.  That you will


stay, where you are,


a human gentle wisp


of life.  Ah . . . . )
.                        

                           .  practices


loneliness,


as a virtue.  A single


specious need


to keep


what you have


never really


had.

Commentary: There is such a resistance to tranquility here, almost the opposite of the Gregg poem before it. I find echoes of Rilke's Autumn Day here. It's a startling and unsettlingly honest poem, one that, once read, it's hard to leave it behind. Why "specious"? How can this "human gentle wisp of life" be so stern upon itself? There is something about "practice" failing at some reality that is more stubborn than any kind of self-improvement. Baraka was a radical activist, founder of the Congress of African People, and I wonder if underneath this poem is the refusal to calm, even within the self, in the face of history. The conversation, in its sincerity, makes the relationship with the self a mysterious form of consecration.

Rumi

(Suffi Poet, 1207-1273)

I say what I think I should do.

          You say, "Die."

I say my lamp's oil has turned to water.

          You say, "Die."

I say I burn like a moth in the candle.

          You say, "Die."

(Translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks)

Commentary: I am fascinated by the uses and abuses of "identity." Here, the "you" is Rumi's dear friend and intimate companion (perhaps lover), Shams, refusing Rumi any kind of dressing on his identity—refusing everything except total transformation, which always incurs a death that cannot be avoided.

'I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day'

Gerard Manly Hopkins

(English, 1844—1889)

I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.

What hours, O what black hours we have spent

This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!

And more must, in yet longer light's delay.

   With witness I speak this. But where I say

Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament

Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent

To dearest him that lives alas! away.

 

 I am gall, I am heartburn. God's most deep decree

Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;

Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.

   Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see

The lost are like this, and their scourge to be

As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.

Commentary: My heart's knees buckle when, so quickly in the poem, I read in the the third line: "...what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!" He addresses his heart—first as if they are united, almost commiserating with his heart about the sights his heart had to see, had to witness. But then, immediately, as if to take all comfort from himself, it's the ways that heart went, not just what the heart saw. So the heart seems to betray the heart, here, which is the knee-buckling of despair that makes this the most agonized prayer throughout. Hopkins was a Jesuit priest: and an un-actualized homosexual. I'm interested in the notion of shame evinced here. In our time, we tiptoe around the notion of shame, understandably. I suppose I will never stop asking the question: what kind of organism perishes under the pressure of self-shame, and what kind finds through that spiritual holocaust a closer proximity to the self? to God?

Wednesday, July 20th

Theme: Health and Sickness; Gratitude and Ingratitude

Raymond Carver

(20th century American)

What the Doctor Said

 

He said it doesn’t look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I’m glad I wouldn’t want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I’m real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn’t catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who’d just given me
Something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may have even thanked him habit being so strong

Commentary: I must tell you that it's been some 15 years since I read this poem. I knew I would include it in our ad hoc little anthology...because illness's great charge must be—however you define it—religiosity. But knowing the poem as I do, I was not prepared for its power and strangeness—especially when the speaker jumps up.... It is unbearable, and suddenly the sacred...is nearer.

Robert Hass

(Contemporary American)

A Story About the Body
 

The young composer, working that summer at an artist's colony, had watched her for a week. She was Japanese, a painter, almost sixty, and he thought he was in love with her. He loved her work, and her work was like the way she moved her body, used her hands, looked at him directly when she made amused and considered answers to his questions. One night, walking back from a concert, they came to her door and she turned to him and said, "I think you would like to have me. I would like that too, but I must tell you that I have had a double mastectomy," and when he didn't understand, "I've lost both my breasts." The radiance that he had carried around in his belly and chest cavity—like music—withered very quickly, and he made himself look at her when he said, "I'm sorry. I don't think I could." He walked back to his own cabin through the pines, and in the morning he found a small blue bowl on the porch outside his door. It looked to be full of rose petals, but he found when he picked it up that the rose petals were on top; the rest of the bowl—she must have swept them from the corners of her studio—was full of dead bees.

Commentary: When sickness and frailty (and the courage around their healing) do not become erotic in this mystery, even Nature loses interest in the human. It's a devastating prose poem about the crime against nature when human vulnerability is not included in the romantic and the sexual.

Panacea

Muriel Rukeyeser

Make me well, I said,—And the delighted touch.

You put dead sweet hand on my dead brain.

The window cleared and the night-street stood black.

As soon as I left your house others besieged me

forcing my motion, saying, Make me well.

Took sickness into the immense street,

but nothing was thriving     I saw blank light     the crazy

blink of torture     the lack      and there is no

personal sickness strong to intrude there.

Returned. Stood at the window. Make me well.

Cannot? The white sea, which is inviolable,

is no greater, the disallied world's unable,

daylight horizons of lakes cannot caress me well.

They hypocrite leper in the parable,

did he believe he would be kissed whole by kisses

I'll try beyond you now, I'll try all flame.

Some force must be whole, some eye inviolable—

look, here I am returned! No help. Gone high again,

legend's no precedent. This perseveres.

The sun, I say, sincere, the sun, the sun.

Commentary: I almost didn't include this poem because it is too personal. I had this hanging in two places in my house, wherever I lived, during the long and terrifying years of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I don't know what factually is going on here; who could? But the consciousness that wrote this most mysterious poem is inside illness in a way that comforted me literally as nothing else.

Emily Dickisnon

(19th century American)

Pain—has an Element of Blank—
It cannot recollect
When it begun—or if there were
A time when it was not—

It has no Future—but itself—
Its Infinite Contain
Its Past—enlightened to perceive
New Periods—of Pain.

Commentary: Dickinson often wrote at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning...when the silence was profoundest. In those hours, in those states, she speaks more inconsolably about certain aspects of being than anyone who has ever put pen to paper. The strange mystery about that ruthless intensity is that the descriptions are so parallel to the actual experience that reading her is healing—at least that's how I feel.

Olga Broumas

(Contemporary American)

Three For the Cusp of May

 

When you touched me

taking all that time

an ancient

and consecrated city

in orbit for centuries

found its dome

She has a big warm

     face and I love to

take it in my hands

     and smooth the cheeks out

with my thumbs

     The truth makes me excited

I fill you with it

     baby she says

Everywhere the cries of the tortured

I root my heels into the earth

my native health

and joy a mindless miracle

Commentary: This of the many poems of Olga's poems I love, I love dearly. It is braver than you might at first think. Very few poets can combine personal eroticism with historical sociopolitical horror, and the strange sum she makes of that equation of her own impossible health, without becoming precious or myopic in a way that would insult everything. She succeeds, I think, simply, and not so simply, because the collision of all of this in her consciousness is real, is permanent, is what she knows and lives, without reprieve. This poem, quietly, has been a kind of anthem of the possible for me.

from Poetry in the Folk Manner

Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps

(20th century Americans)

Take This Hammer

Take this hammer—huh!

And carry it to the captain—huh!

You tell him I'm gone—huh!

Tell him I'm gone—huh!

If he asks you—huh!

Was I runnin'—huh!

You tell him I was flyin'—huh!

You tell him I was flyin'—huh!

If he asks you—huh!

Was I laughin'—huh!

You tell him I was cryin'—huh!

you tell him I was cryin'—huh!

Commentary: It may seem strange that I include this under the theme of sickness and health, but the speaker of this poem expresses an incredibly complex relationship to oppression, which seems exceedingly healthy to me. To quit a job (or a form of servitude) because of its doubtless unfairness and degradation, to mythopoetically leap over the notion of "escaping" ("runnin'") with "flyin'," and then to honor the pain even in the midst of this terrible self-affirmation and self-emancipation with "cryin'" seems to me a model of true health—and "Negative Capability."

Emily Dickinson

The Soul unto itself
Is an imperial friend  – 
Or the most agonizing Spy  – 
An Enemy  –  could send  – 

Secure against its own  – 
No treason it can fear  – 
Itself  –  its Sovereign  –  of itself
The Soul should stand in Awe  – 

Commentary: Here's another poem about vast mental health. She writes this in a pre-psychological era, before Freudian words like Ego, Id, and Superego—but she seems to be anticipating the ensouled forms of psychology (Depth Psychology) that were yet to come. What interests me most is the word "awe." That the soul should be in awe of itself is terribly striking. It means to me: a discernment without judgement that is suggestible to the wild.

Wednesday, July 25th

Theme; Love and Gratitude

Somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

By E. E. Cummings

Twentieth Century American

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond

any experience,your eyes have their silence:

in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, 

or which i cannot touch because they are too near

 

your slightest look easily will unclose me

though i have closed myself as fingers, 

you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens

(touching skilfully, mysteriously)her first rose

 

or if your wish be to close me,i and 

my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,

as when the heart of this flower imagines

the snow carefully everywhere descending;

 

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals 

the power of your intense fragility:whose texture

compels me with the colour of its countries,

rendering death and forever with each breathing

 

(i do not know what it is about you that closes

and opens;only something in me understands

the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

Those Winter Sundays

By Robert Hayden

Twentieth Century American

Sundays too my father got up early

and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,

then with cracked hands that ached

from labor in the weekday weather made

banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

 

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.

When the rooms were warm, he’d call,

and slowly I would rise and dress,

fearing the chronic angers of that house,

 

Speaking indifferently to him,

who had driven out the cold

and polished my good shoes as well.

What did I know, what did I know

of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Thank You, My Fate

Anna Swir

Twentieth Century Polish

 

Great humility fills me,
great purity fills me,
I make love with my dear
as if I made love dying
as if I made love praying,
tears pour
over my arms and his arms.
I don’t know whether this is joy
or sadness, I don’t understand
what I feel, I’m crying,
I’m crying, it’s humility
as if I were dead,
gratitude, I thank you, my fate,
I’m unworthy, how beautiful
my life.

UNTITLED

Hitomaro

8th Century Japanese

tr. Kenneth Rexroth

Gossip grows like weeds

in a summer meadow.

My girl and I

sleep arm in arm.

LOVE SONG

A.R. Ammons

Twentieth Century American

Like the hills under dusk you

fall away from the light:

you deepen: the green

light darkens

and you are nearly lost:

only so much light as

stars keep

manifests your face:

the total night in

myself raves

for the light along your lips.

First Kiss

FIRST KISS

Kim Addonizio

Contemporary American

Afterwards you had that drunk, drugged look

my daughter used to get, when she had let go

of my nipple, her mouth gone slack and her eyes   

turned vague and filmy, as though behind them   

the milk was rising up to fill her

whole head, that would loll on the small

white stalk of her neck so I would have to hold her   

closer, amazed at the sheer power

of satiety, which was nothing like the needing

to be fed, the wild flailing and crying until she fastened   

herself to me and made the seal tight

between us, and sucked, drawing the liquid down   

and out of my body; no, this was the crowning

moment, this giving of herself, knowing

she could show me how helpless

she was—that’s what I saw, that night when you   

pulled your mouth from mine and

leaned back against a chain-link fence,

in front of a burned-out church: a man

who was going to be that vulnerable,

that easy and impossible to hurt.

AT NIGHT

Bella Akhmadulina

Twentieth Century Russian

How can I call out? How can I shout?

In silence everything is fragile as glass.

Having laid its head on the receiver,

the telephone sleeps soundly.

I'll walk across the sleeping city

through a snowy side street.

I'll go up to your window,

quietly and tenderly.

I'll protect you from the street sounds

with the palms of my hands,

the streets ringing with drops of melting snow.

I'll put out the lamps to keep your eyes in sleep.

I'll command the spring to put the nightsounds in order.

So, what kind of a person are you in sleep!

Your arms have grown so weak.

Fatigue is concealed in the wrinkles of your eyes—

tomorrow I'll kiss them so no trace remains.

I'll watch over your sleep till dawn,

then leave in the clean snowy morning,

forgetting about my tracks in the snow,

through the dry leaves of last autumn.

(tr. Daniel Halpern with albert Todd)

AFTER THE LITTLE MARINER

Olga Broumas

Contemporary American

I woke up in the dark

of a moon steamed against glass

black as if glazed with ebony

or soft lead handled in the blind

of another's dream and he

the crossroader

the atmospheric horseman

the makrsman who can calm the deep

by taking a teenager

down from his constellation and instructing

him to walk across the surf then kneel

inside the pelago a broadcast

charging the elements

with Rilke's terror as my soul

rang in the air above

the bedclothes rustled through my limbs

on the bed were paralyzed

transparent

I could see

a ribbon song begin

from the lungs of his penis

inside my body like a swallow

of ice-cold milk in August

gleaming and slow like mercury

upstream and through my lips

and then my soul

fell into or my body rose

 

 

Wednesday, August 10th

I FELT A FUNERAL IN MY BRAIN

Emily Dickinson

19th Century American

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,

And Mourners to and fro

Kept treading - treading - till it seemed

That Sense was breaking through -

 

And when they all were seated,

A Service, like a Drum -

Kept beating - beating - till I thought

My mind was going numb -

 

And then I heard them lift a Box

And creak across my Soul

With those same Boots of Lead, again,

Then Space - began to toll,

 

As all the Heavens were a Bell,

And Being, but an Ear,

And I, and Silence, some strange Race,

Wrecked, solitary, here -

 

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,

And I dropped down, and down -

And hit a World, at every plunge,

And Finished knowing - then -

 

 

THE HILL

Anthony Hecht

20th Century American

In Italy, where this sort of thing can occur,
I had a vision once – though you understand
It was nothing at all like Dante's, or the visions of saints,
And perhaps not a vision at all.  I was with some friends,
Picking my way through a warm, sunlit piazza
In the early morning.  A clear fretwork of shadows
From huge umbrellas littered the pavement and made
A sort of lucent shallows in which was moored
A small navy of carts.  Books, coins, old maps,
Cheap landscapes and ugly religious prints
Were all on sale.  The colors and noise
Like the flying hands were gestures of exultation,
So that even the bargaining
Rose to the ear like a voluble godliness.
And then, when it happened, the noises suddenly stopped,
And it got darker; pushcarts and people dissolved
And even the great Farnese Palace itself
Was gone, for all its marble; in its place
Was a hill, mole-colored and bare.  It was very cold,
Close to freezing, with a promise of snow.
The trees were like old ironwork gathered for scrap
Outside a factory wall.  There was no wind,
And the only sound for a while was the little click
Of ice as it broke in the mud under my feet.
I saw a piece of ribbon snagged on a hedge,
But no other sign of life.  And then I heard
What seemed the crack of a rifle.  A hunter, I guessed;
At least I was not alone.  But just after that
Came the soft and papery crash
Of a great branch somewhere unseen falling to earth.

And that was all, except for the cold and silence
That promised to last forever, like the hill.

Then prices came through, and fingers, and I was restored
To the sunlight and my friends.  But for more than a week
I was scared by the plain bitterness of what I had seen.
All this happened about ten years ago,
And it hasn't troubled me since, but at last, today,
I remembered that hill; it lies just to the left
Of the road north of Poughkeepsie; and as a boy
I stood before it for hours in wintertime.

THIS LIVING HAND

John Keats

19th Century English

This living hand, now warm and capable

Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold

And in the icy silence of the tomb,

So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights

That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood

So in my veins red life might stream again,

And thou be conscience-calm’d–see here it is–

I hold it towards you.

Excerpt from THE PSALMS OF CHANGE

Zhenevere Sophia Dao


Then, slowly, she took a finger and opened her face, leveling at my own—
and her face, my god, was mine.
Her eyes were mine, her mouth and cheeks, the resolute slope of her nose.
But she was at once younger and more aged, as if I could see her every naked thought,

but her thought was so disarmed it was invisible.

She stared at me until my legs collapsed, as I fainted.


When I woke the shadows were lengthening toward the east,

and all around us the infinite sheep were sleeping.
Still she stood before me, and I rose to meet her eyes—
my eyes, for she bore my own expression into myself,
until her eyes darkened more, like a blood eclipse,
and she spoke these words to me:

“You will have to follow me past all reason, past all knowledge, even past intuition.

You cannot recount this story as it occurs.
You will shed all performance, until you are as cold and as still as death.
Your force will give out and your body will break, like a burning branch,

like a heavy camel falling on shattered knees.
Whatever strength you have will feel repugnant and heavy,
like a lie you cannot expunge from your sleep.
You will crawl on your hands and knees, looking for my softly padding feet
and the scraps of harpsong that drift over my shoulders.
You will cut your flesh on the real and the unspoken, on the almost imperceivable,

the nearly silenced singing beneath all the exhausted exhibitions.
You will eat your own ear and drink your own tears
and bleed ceaselessly into the depthless ground.
I will turn to you then, beginning to show you your body.
I will wait for you in the knots of the most labyrinthine places.
You will grow insane with loneliness.
Anyone who loves you will grow tired of your simplicity.
They will long for the powers you are dispossessing.
You will have to steel yourself against regression,
cleaving to the minutiae and calling for me as if I were a god.
Then I will turn my face upon you, and you will blaze in the mirror of this honesty.

You will be hopeless beyond all resurrection.
But the earth will have you, and the curve of my breasts will be you,
and my shoulders will carve you and cleanse you of all ambition.
Your intellect will be your instinct, my thighs your soil, your breath my eyes,
your wonder my weeping into these streams I have made with your chaste sensibility.

Go now. Pick up your legs. Your heart is inflatable because you so love the world.

Now you are breakable in time, like eternity.”

 

PINK MOON: THE POND

Mary Oliver

Contemporary American

 

You think it will never happen again.
Then, one night in April,
the tribes wake trilling.
You walk down to the shore.
Your coming stills them,
but little by little the silence lifts
until song is everywhere
and your soul rises from your bones
and strides out over the water.
It is a crazy thing to do –
for no one can live like that,
floating around in the darkness
over the gauzy water.
Left on the shore your bones
keep shouting come back!
But your soul won’t listen;
in the distance it is sparkling
like hot wires. So,
like a good friend,
you decide to follow.
You step off the shore
and plummet to your knees –
you slog forward to your thighs
and sink to your cheekbones –
and now you are caught
by the cold chains of the water –
you are vanishing while around you
the frogs continue to sing, driving
their music upward through your own throat,
not even noticing
you are someone else.
And that’s when it happens –
you see everything
through their eyes,
their joy, their necessity;
you wear their webbed fingers;
your throat swells.
And thats when you know
you will live whether you will or not,
one way or another,
because everything is everything else,
one long muscle.
It’s no more mysterious than that.
So you relax, you don’t fight it anymore,
the darkness coming down
called water,
called spring,
called the green leaf, called
a woman’s body
as it turns into mud and leaves,
as it betas in its cage of water,
as it turns like a lonely spindle
in the moonlight, as it says
yes.

IMG_0538.jpeg