A Welcome of Some Kind

Mind is flat, unoriginal. Crows are blue if you look closely, I have no way of relating to them – or you – otherwise.

Was it bad? It was bad but it passed but I remembered almost perfectly and the memory has become a kind of cautionary story masquerading as identity.

Signifiers in the maelstrom, let us relax even these, let us let go of even these.

Deleted sentences, usually political in nature, about which I am unsure. Far hills of which Emily Dickinson was certainly aware, that much at least is certain. Overnight the world disappears and so far always comes back, and nothing else happens, and so here I am.

How in the days that come after the gathering end times we will weep and gnash our teeth and then begin again learning how to share, console, et cetera.

Power corrupts, love creates.

Morning rain, quiet and soft, the greening world a welcome of some kind, one I’d forgotten.

Coiled hoses. Ferns overrunning the yard where last year I planted one or two. Everything envelopes everything else.

So you spilled your morning coffee, so what.

Couples who call each other babe, wanting to dissect the semantics and intentions. Mating robins where the lilac is blooming. Remember being happy?

Upended tables are a form of the cosmos indicating what about order and function. What do you know that cannot be forgotten?

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A Cosmic Undulation of Surprising Joy

Oh, I don’t know. I’m tireder than I used to be and the moon moves around in the sky more. Going back to Bookchin to remind myself of those long nights in Burlington, listening to him in his living room, and arguing after with Dan, Cynthia, Linden and what-was-her-name, how do we save the world, how do we find the others who will help us save the world.

Listening to the radio driving like the old days. Struggling up through a hard tide, now is the time. Leaving the table rather than waiting on the river, done with gambling what was always meant to be shared.

Forget-me-nots by the front yard maple, a little field of them from last year’s planting, why yes I will stay a little longer, thank you.

Salting eggs, toasting bread. I have been scared a lot, and scared of a lot, but those days are ending. Rain-slicked quartz and other intimations of endurances that transcend me.

Photos of the wedding sure but the gardens are the picture of our marriage, alive and evolving, which we are finding our way away from, off into a new territory for which we have neither a compass nor a chart.

Four a.m. and the horses are out, wandering all the way down to the river and its lushness, so I waken the girls who corral and bring them back while Chrisoula and I work on the fence. Birds calling from hedge rows and hemlocks, the horizon softening what doesn’t want to soften in all of us. I haven’t been happy in a long time – since Jonas left Worthington really – and am only just now seeing it. Imagine the sideyard lilac is your heart, and your heart is not a bellows, and each drawn breath a cosmic undulation of surprising joy.

Later we’re all tired and don’t say much over breakfast despite theextra coffee. Sentence by sentence, poem by poem. Cardinals pass, pause briefly on the back porch, then take off for the neighbors who are putting out seed again, despite our pleas. Patches of sunlight on rain-soaked grass, traffic picking up in the distance. So much comes down to the day after and the way we explain how we arrived here.

Asleep a long time, and sleep punctuated by empty dreams, each one a stone at the bottom of a well.

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Sometimes Called to Travel

It’s the Monday after Orthodox Easter. I’m not hungry. And every leaf on the birch tree out back has a single drop of rain at its tip, inverting the world beyond it. Everything simplifies, or asks to be.

One wakes later than ususal, having found the way to the end of insomnia, and dresses for the outdoors. Trailing my fingers along the lilac bush, uprooting the remains of last year’s lilies. When we kneel to pray, our brain lights up the same way it does star-gazing. Possibility shrinks, taking the body with it. Lauds for this, lauds for that.

Cardinals chase one another through a side garden in which composted horse manure was recently dumped. Beyond the belief system, that which scaffolds the belief system, which is impersonal and makes no distinctions. Prisms in east-facing windows, empty wine bottles in which crickets sleep, dreaming of a world for which there is no name.

Fox tracks in a patch of mud near the horses. How tired one becomes in the Country of Turtles, always trying to find a way to rest. “Define rest” says Chrisoula and years pass in my little hut behind the main house, studying and practicing to please her. Rain-obscured sunsets. Tell me again why we are sometimes called to travel?

Fearlessness now and then at last, but not as a state to be clung to, only shared. How silver everything is at the precise moment, as if a promise made long ago was at last being considered, and not found wanting. Say less says the Lord and I do, I do.

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Between Empty and Nothing

Dusk. Everyone is at Town Meeting up the street, but I am sitting on the front porch alone watching sparrows pick through the grass along still-warm schist, ragged and gray, marking the front walk mostly otherwise unused. Across the street, a pink flowering dogwood resembles what I know to be true of my heart, that pure and wordy traveler who carries me with him through the world we co-create. What would I do without you is the seedbed of fantasy, beyond which there is only the willingness to become responsible for the end of projection. Then what. Then this: this this, in which we are not alone, as you see.

Who asks to be a virgin but the one who is not only not afraid of the other but longs to embody that fearlessness, the better to instruct us all on the end of war and conflict and related forms of suffering. Imagine sitting outside long enough for the traffic on Route Nine to fade, for the birdsong to quieten, and then in the presence of starlight and hints of rain to hear only the river, a persistent low thrum, as if out back beyond the horses a Goddess were insisting you are safe and all will be well for all. Dreams come and go, and so do the dreamers, which levels the specialness inherent in imitating anything at all. Homemade egg rolls and fried eggplant, washed down with cool raspberry leaf tea. A prayer that opens and closes all activity, including eating, writing poems, and listening carefully to what is being indicated. What is being indicated. At the center, which She signifies as both spaceless and timeless, even a hint of non-denunciation of ownership or possessiveness at all is forbidden. What do you learn letting go. What is the difference between empty and nothing.

Imagine the next breath as a country you will visit by divine decree, different from any other country you have ever visited, yet in which you can only be at home. Again and again one comes back to the wonder of what cannot possibly be and yet is, unmistakeably. These sparrows are my family, we are together Christ, Who is entirely collective, and this old parsonage is where what is sacred calls me back to us. I have no body. And begin.

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Restoring Longing to Its Rightful Place

April ending. Remember in 1990 your first AA meeting, coffee after with Dick, who later in the summer begged to be allowed to go down on you in his convertible facing the Connecticut river at dusk.

Remember Jack Gilbert in line behind me at Forbes Library, the look we shared. Remember the women walking out of his poetry reading at the Green Street Cafe in 1988 or 89, and the confusion that erupted in me, to linger for decades.

Waking up early to work on the Christ is a Collective essay, the writing going well for once, and after boiling water for Chrisoula’s morning tea.

Imagine needing nothing else.

Unusually bright daffodills. New arrangements in the borders of me mean the juncos and wrens are held in me now, extending me over the back fields, all the way to the river. As if what. Chrisoula washing dishes last night while I dried, the girls a room over arguing do you need to read Jane Austen’s letters to have an opinion about her portrayals of gender. What I lose driving but regain at four a.m. in the dark with my coffee.

In the dark with coffee and my willingness to learn a new way to pray.

Bluebird on the neighbor’s birdhouse, sunlight cresting dark hills on the other side of the river: landscapes are alive and include us, and not only as witnesses. Take heed.

Helen Beeth restoring longing to its rightful place in the soul we share.

Something small getting smaller. Something living that has no name nor need for one. Morning passing through what neither stays nor passes. This and that, again.

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Never Not Familiar

Coffee at dawn, just after the birds start, is there any other life. I wonder where the river will be in two hundred years. I remembering throwing Denise’s letters from England away after I got sober, thirteen altogether in a dumpster across from the shelter. I have always looked more deeply into the heart and its brokenness than most folks say is required, and at a late juncture I can tell them they were right, but still. Why are some things hard but others not so much. This is the home in which I realized it was time to let the cardinals just be cardinals. This is the family in which I learn I am never not familiar. Oh, sure, it’s true it sometimes feels as if we are living in somebody else’s prayer, finding our way little by little to amen and hoping it’s a beginning, not an end. Budding forsythia holds no secrets, unearthed quartz washed clean by rain is not a mystery. Juncos in the lilac are a gift you give, not a gift you receive. Look, there in the palm of your hand is a map to the kosmos, what else could you possibly hold.

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Local Grace

Back to form and function and the one relationship. Bald eagles sailing over the river on whose banks we stand talking about what comes after marriage. Brilliant women and the world they invite me to imagine.

Daffodils and hostas, dandelions and forsythia. I rebuild the stone wall on the western side of the house, tearing at the roots of ferns, unearthing perfect quartz, facing the existential crisis with intentionally local grace.

How large the world appears when one no longer claims a place in it. Cosmic folds endlessly yielding.

The stairwell is cavernous and home to many ghosts. Light softening through a stained glass window. How empty any space can be without actually being empty. Heart thumping in its temporary cage, the soul burning drafts of old poems behind the barn.

This project becomes a way of being present to what this project meant to become, back when becoming was a thing you could believe in. The river is the only sound at midnight. The waxing moon – a finger shy of full – falls into the horizon’s origin. Tell me again why we’re bodies?

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Familiar Hurt and Anger

Five a.m. on the back porch with coffee, again. The familiar hurt and anger loosening, floating into the late winter sky, farewell. Threads of snow remaining on the east side of the barn resemble a seahorse if you squint. Later, driving west, mumbling rosary prayers. We who survive the self-imposed brutality but can’t say why play what role in the collective. What would happen if you let Love guide you, where would you be, who would be there with you saying, this place looks good, let’s spend the night. What is helpful, what is not. I remember caring more about Emily Dickinson than now, but now I know what it means to live on the other side of far hills. Rest in peace indeed. First you rehearse, and lifetimes pass, and then you perform, and the one life intensifies, and then you realize the emptiness of both theory and practice, and then what. Rain falling, cardinals calling to one another in tangled flower gardens I refuse to master. This this. The neighbors repair certain fences and the world changes a little. It’s all about relationship but maybe not in the way you think, don’t give up. Brother, tell me again what moonlight means when it fills a tea cup your long-dead – but hardly gone – grandmother owned?

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A Form of Homelessness

There is rain and then there is no rain. What passes and what doesn’t. Sitting quietly for hours with coffee in darkness, letting even prayer go. At home with a form of homelessness which I do not recommend. Why yes I will have another slice of pie, thank you.

What kind of a market is the world, really. Outside Boston, a monk rises and prays while remembering the way his mother used to look out the window after his father left for work. Imagine knowing how to help. Imagine helping.

Non-resistance – which is a form of nonviolence – is the solution, if you are still looking. I remember the wind mostly, and the feeling falling that it was neither a mistake nor not-a-mistake, and in any case was not the end. Wind off the harbor, late winter chill. And this: this this.

Wood chips from the neighbor’s ground-up maple floating in puddles at the driveway’s edge. Nobody told me how lonely it would get. Burning deadfall, throwing handfuls of sage on the flames. Who will miss me when I am gone is why most of us never go.

And: early morning chickadee song, and the same old happy confusion.

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The Ones Who Bring the Bread

Think of me as someone you can love I write and instantly wish I hadn’t.

Robins in morning mist where in a day or two or ten a dozen splendid crocuses will appear.

Late but not too late I realize that my body has been masquerading as a missing child trying to convince himself he does not want to be found.

Oh, you want me to tell you another story, well I won’t, story-telling was the whole problem I had to leave you to undo.

Mist in the meadow at the level of the blind Appaloosa’s carpi.

“Easter is coming” I whisper to the forsythia I planted last year near the apple trees.

My mother used broken mirrors as ice in the Christmas villages she labored over every December, little plastic skaters suspended as if frozen over their reflection, which felt like a metaphor for something but what.

You cannot ask a dog to leave.

I’m the guy who doesn’t stay, who can’t stay, it’s a family thing, it’s nothing personal.

As a matter of fact this is my idea of peace, you have something you want to say about it?

Lesson after lesson like a river rising to our hips which can’t seem to stop crashing into one another.

Breathless under the stars, thank you Jesus for giving me so fully and unconditionally this gift of attention.

Rain all night, waking to holiness accordingly.

Knowing how to take a punch and wishing I didn’t but not as much as wishing I’d never thrown one.

Bread for the lost, bread for the hungry, and bread for the ones who bring the bread.

Listen I cannot bear how dark it gets around here, I really need the sinking to end, can you help, please help.

Kegan seeing as a developmental stage, the self asking itself going forward, what shall this self be?

Or else what I wish I’d said, having never learned.

What I learn too late, and then learn is outside time altogether.

This love and only this love.

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