Friday, December 28, 2012

To be an expert at something

Reach up
constantly, like the arms of pines.

Let light project itself
through your fingers.

And when you fall
(fall you will)

make falling a thing of beauty
like snow

restful on air,
to the storm surrendered

Then not stopping
where it lands, but rising up, 

creating of that tree
something new of its very own.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas quiet

Like snow flakes in a storm, words and thoughts blow about, not landing. The heart responds: maybe love loves a white-out. The world comes to an end. Wounds and arguments get muffled. The axe to the fallen apple tree ceases. Like a bird watching from a cage of branches I wait it out and let go of everything but this twig. Clusters of snow crazily float, lift, fall, jerk again and pass by, and by, and by. On a quiet perch inside a cave of spruce the spirit of winter and Christmas fills up this little space.

May this Christmas quiet grow from infancy to immensity for us all. I love you. I love you so much.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Spirit of Winter

In blue moonlight
we have danced
on the orchard floor

one and quiet,
the down of birds
swelling like fruit in the trees

my head fallen
on your chest of snow,
mind flung at the stars

our rustic limbs
reaching in perfect
invisible blackness
against a black sky

When did you go?
I am suddenly
too heavily something

studding the orchard
with these apple trees.
I need to dance
to nothing again.

With appreciation, always, to Wallace Stevens.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rilke's birthday

I began shrinking years ago. The phenomenon was painful at first, but over time I realized that shrinking pains, like growing pains, subside when you actually get closer to the size of your new self.

Words may be one of the smallest habitations for the self. Yet we keep trying to squeeze ourselves into them.

At some stage of smallness I found Rumi. He taught me about going and arriving and about seemingly opposing forces. When one thing comes, its apparent opposite is arriving close behind. Love and fear, life and death, hope and despair. These circles are the fields where the divine plays.

Give us one clear morning after another,
and the one whose work remains unfinished,

who is our work as we diminish,
idle, though occupied, empty, and open.

(read all of Rumi's poem "Jars of Springwater" here)

Then I found Rilke and grew smaller still while contemplating the vastness he encountered and expressed in his brief life. Poems are small treatises, the smallest forms that words compile. The wind of experience keeps blowing, eroding the outer shell. Words grow less. The ability to say anything about what is felt shrinks.

In honor of Rilke's 137th birthday, I posted his poem "Night" at my "small" blog with a sketch I drew of his strange, small face. Here are the last two stanzas of "Night":

. . . brimming with new stars, who fling
fire from their birth
into the soundless adventure
of galactic spaces:

your sheer existence,
you transcender of all things, makes me so small.
Yet, one with the darkening earth,
I dare to be in you.

(whole poem here)

The world closes in on us in its overtaking vastness. But there is another expanse we can enter in our smallness that in turn shrinks the materially burdened world. It is the infinite, eternal space here inside.