The Heart at Last Ends

Strawberry picking later but for now wordiness in the presence of clover that escaped the mower’s blade. Red in summer dreams of death and who can help. We are always narrowly missing something.

What am I when you are not here to describe me? How simple the truth is vs. how complex the veils with which I obscure it is one way to say it. Cameras abound and Beauty is not yet compromised so relax into the gift you always are.

A sad woman an arm’s length away brokers convention in order to demonstrate need. Enormous kale leaves and livid stems of swiss chard and enough shade in which to talk about the quality of soil in New England. We are all emulating the patient quiet umbrella maker.

You enhance my awareness of circumference. God sounds good. I mean long walks that go longer than you think and end in places that never imagined tea.

Decisions abound, or seem to, and what is broken is revealed as not broken, and healing becomes merely a question of seeing this. The emphasis on undoing can too readily be translated to outdoing, a flaw to which I am perennially disposed. Jesus insists on nothing, even when it rains.

I mean that dance and no other and preferably together. A grand alchemy in which the heart at last ends its obsession with otherness. How sad one becomes watching morning sunlight slip slowly up and across the rose bush and into the daisies because saying it isn’t enough and saying it is all I ever learned of love.

The maple tree is unabashed by autumn is all you need to know about your own body. I’ll tell you why we started singing: we listened to the sea and became happy.

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A Bluet Grasp of the Sensuous Truth

You know how dear Jonathan Edwards remains to me, yes? One lingers inside eighteenth century mailsacks with all the other yellowing letters composed in part with Isenglass. Snowflakes are secrets loosening meaning in slow-sifting veils one has to study closely to see. We will hold hands and walk out to where the low surf reaches our ankles and stand a long time before the meaningless empty horizon.

How wretched one becomes when they cannot burn their maps nor take a step alone across the ash. The hill was there for ten thousand years and I walked across it in a day, helped in part by a red umbrella. Breathe me into the insight you are. Word comes from Gettysburg, a mellifluous yes, a canyon filled with crystalline blunderbusses.

Fear no winter so long as I can still cut wood. I learned how to hunt and fish, and how to start a fire, but lessons about cars and tractors sailed through my brain August thirty-first. A bluet grasp of the sensuous truth? You fill me from midnight to moon.

I am as always reduced to words. Take no compass for a teacher and ignore the trains at 4 a.m.! Pulling a curtain aside to see stars at night as all undressing reveals the light in which longing goes homeless a long time happy. Fold of you enfolding me an Irish dawn unfolding.

Balloons to the south reduce me to tears. No lunch but how slow our fingers go touching under the table. Yet later in the shade one insists on cheese. A weighty loss redeemed in slumber, consenting at last to sleep.

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Only What Always Is

Perhaps the question is how sad one can be before sadness itself passes and you arrive at what remains which is always only what always is. It’s like we met just to learn we would never meet and so began a terrible lesson in emptiness. On the other hand, a field full of hawkweed under towering cumuli backlit by sunlight does make one dream of a westward turn. What I am saying is, don’t give up, not just yet.

You were born so that I might find a use for mailboxes in poems, and I was born so that you might at last sidestep guilt in favor of writing at all. In my dream I show you the pasture, talking and talking, and you bring me to silence with a soft touch and we lean into a first kiss where the fence itself is toppling, at last falling into the tall grass while overhead a pale moon turns somersaults through glowing pines. Alone is a choice we make in order to more deeply perceive the one who chooses at all. How blunt I feel when asked again to dig a grave that another might grieve beside it.

I wonder if she remembers the vigil she held when I asked timidly would she? How much love can we bear? And just how specific must one be about anything at this point? I am unmoved by past lives, understanding now that it all happens at once.

In other words, this. Another fox attack, this one just before midnight, the chicken’s confused cries fading as it was carried away through the fields. Oh heart or whatever breaks can you not bear me away beyond words, even for only a moment? Modesty becomes no body although context remains germane.

A vivid balance in which resistance at last ends. Before red I swallow yes. Be at last my heavenly guest? I carry the thought of her deep into the forest, and the forest changes accordingly, and in a thousand years someone will pass here – pause by where the trillium grows – and praise the sunset, the red west of loveliness blooming, and know they are home in all places.

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Turn Inward Tighter

Hawkweed forty or fifty yards off, red the color I can never manage. Two days ago a pair of fawns tottering through unhayed fields and this morning crows picking the belly of a still-struggling turtle. Last night we stopped to watch enormous cumuli float slowly through sunset and I thought how often the sky resembles the sea. Going down is gone. Certain bodies are unsafe no matter what.

The canoe (red) slides into the lake and mallards discourse accordingly. The carpenter returns my call after two days and we talk about Bob Dylan in the early seventies. Afternoon spent gathering deadfall, dreaming of Vermont. I like your shirt and the way you don’t care what it shows or doesn’t show. Anniversaries are no longer part of the helpful context.

Clover, rabbit tracks. We make a date for a museum outside Boston and I wonder how necessary travel is anymore. At 2 a.m. a fox raided the neighbor’s barn – foolishly left open – and the dog and I went out to check on our own birds, all safe. How bright the sky can be when the moon is hidden away. Two letters sent means you wait on a reply, like August waits for bears.

Antique chairs? One appreciates the inclination to render pattern a narrative and spends more time than usual studying the sprawling stream of the milky way. Bees abound in flowering dogwood. Why deviate from the teacher who teaches that only minds can join? Emily Dickinson always said turn inward tighter and stay there longer.

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In Gettysburg One Longs

A rainy landscape lit by fireflies. The dog and I move through it heavy.

One reconsiders Bob Dylan’s work ethic, the propensity of the ego to make images and call them reality, and also what is loneliness. Tired boys elicit compassion, don’t they.

Wild roses scaling the crabapple beg a camera. How fine a straw hat is when the sun shines, how lovely thunder when you can lower the window.

The feminine you multiplies. I remember driving through southern Vermont alone with coffee idolizing a way of thinking that was at best hurting only me.

Zafus sink in the sea when thrown there. Mostly I am aware of your effort, only sometimes the light to which it aspires.

Supposing the flow of fear were to find a new course, what would change? One can only wait on the mail so long before seeing at last the futility of time.

The brutality of certain crimes? The heart is a muscle charged with a task and mostly needs to be let to do its work.

Childhood was flavored always with “or else.” You grow up, or out, or you go on, and what happens next, because.

He memorialized sadness, made loss into a God, because he thought that was what it meant to be holy. Clocks hide a wild truth.

Question the implicit faith in the functionality of all planning. One longs to be held in Gettysburg, one longs to kneel where you open.

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Still North

Behavior reflects belief. Thought is not the gift. And true stillness consists only of the acceptance that nothing is truly still. North, always north.

Blossoms appear on the backyard rose bush, insisting that the only problem I have is solved, and asking would I learn it now. Tea in the old way, as swallows dive and tuck the blustery sky. Open for me, that I might better find my way to you. Awareness, emptiness, albatross, pine tree and – naturally – a mailbox.

The neighbor’s rooster hoarsely cries. Ferns belie a nautilus curl never not attending. Naked is one way but there are other – more ecstatic – ways. He wrote in the back of a pickup surrounded by boxes of garlic and the sun that shone on him shines on you which matters.

A welter, a mystery, a train. Writing follows what insight? Settling in the new silence where trees alone can teach us grace. When is morning not a form of a hunger studying the holes in satisfied?

We all blunder on the way to seeing perfect now. Observe closely the parts of us that fit and allow the hymn its profligate organ. I wrote “survival” but meant “goldenrod” and so the sentence brings her closer yet. Oh come for Christ’s sake where I can feel it too.

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Regret Stains the Present

The kitchen smells of basil and parsley, green shreds of which still decorate the counter, and the backyard fills with faint pockets of moonlight. Swans circled the bend and entered my field of vision, as later certain women would, and also men. Owls sing contentedly in the deep forest, the slow spiral of their woodwind vowels drifting like soot up the hills. Oh morning, you are never not on time.

Regret stains the present and I do what I have always done: write and give attention to what is written and then write some more. There is always the mail! Fidelity is non-negotiable or it’s no longer fidelity but rather scrip with which to bargain. I am never not amazed at how one hears the river at three a.m. but at six it has faded in a welter of bird song and traffic.

Yet more tea while the dog at last relents and curls up on the bed to sleep. We studied the neighbor’s gardens, we nibbled garlic scapes like rabbits. Symbolism evolves, novels are mostly afterthoughts. You wonder sometimes about the mind that first pondered the organization of sound and designed and built a flute accordingly.

Words, words and more words! Cats sleep on gathered laundry and one takes to the floor to keep their rhythms fluid. Behold the new sonnet, sketched on the teeth of the poor. We are keeping it tight in shadowed rooms, we are dreaming of lumber dreaming of us.

Strawberries and asparagus and the inclination to festivals abound. Bees in purple clover in the clearing where we sometimes go with blankets. Assemble the strangers? I mean be careful what you wish for indeed.

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Now the Blossom I Am

Slowly one retrieves the writing, returning it to home. When I study the grass, I no longer see only grass. It is impossible to outlive our helpfulness.

Ants scale the chair where I write, chickadees hide in the blackberry bushes. The kitchen smells like parsley and garlic and when I close my eyes I see mushrooms peeking from beneath silky ferns. How gentle we are becoming, you and I, as if remembering at last what is love.

One watches the pale moon fade like chalk dropped in the sea, one shares the way with a lady bug. I walk alone as far as the old cemetery to sit quietly on a rotting bench and think about nothing in particular. You can’t explain it, you can only move in it.

After, I said “I felt like I swallowed a disco” to which Chrisoula replied “I felt like we did in Vermont.” I have followed cows down wooded trails, I have ignored the jabbering of men. Slowly I allow the writing to reclaim itself, which in a way is to allow it to lead me, and swallows are thus made my teachers.

I mean: bluets, clover, fleasbane, daisies, hawkweed, buttercups and pale wild morning glories hiding in the uncut hay field. Watts Brook rises on account of beavers and beavers come and go. One forgets about the mail, and it’s okay, because communication was never so restricted.

Hammers yield the manageable distance. I stack quartz near the front stairs and sing quietly in moonlight my gratitude. Be not afraid and betray no glade.

Afternoon opens now the blossom I am all for you. Voices rise and fall, run the gamut from whispers to shouts, here and elsewhere the same.

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The Informed Quiet

Swallows trail across the sky, ferns extends to the limits of each frond. I know blue. Lilac now reaches even beyond the first story. Side yard gutters left untended fill with chipmunks and husks of seed. The bark of any tree becomes you.

Afternoons sitting by the brook, reading Wittgenstein, grateful nobody asks what I think. A conversation is an event, and events have effects, usually measurable ones. Want eclipses need, as any contemplative knows. More and more there are no words. Honeysuckle bouquet all over us.

I take Sophia the old orchard and the secret cemetery, both several miles into the forest at the edge of town. Instruments of regret compose sorrowful songs to nobody’s surprise. Because we don’t talk going in, we surprise the bears who tumble over stone walls away from us. Hills rolling west into New York where I literally saw Jesus but didn’t realize it until several months after. Join the triumph of the skies, indeed.

The ducks chatter as we refill waterers. Chickadees assume leadership positions, as I am still learning how to talk without speaking. Emily Dickinson’s swimmers forever push the bounds of going under. My muffled cries against her throat, her arms holding me in place long after, and then the earned – the informed – quiet. Not getting anywhere is the only way to go.

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You Can Find Jesus Anywhere

I lose count of the hawkweed blossoms and it’s okay. Milk snakes unfurl like a monk’s belt and near the cemetery summer’s first toad scuttles the trail for rotting logs. Eighteen fifty was a hard year, fifty-one harder.

Tea while the chickens do their egg song and I write. What else is morning for? Clarity is a form of responsibility and at last one is ready to accept it.

Viceroy butterflies sun themselves near the garden, folding and unfolding in the stiff light until at last they rise and flutter west. Robin’s egg fragments litter the lawn and God is near accordingly. I mean holiness pervades the whole of creation and I notice it sometimes and others I don’t.

Oh beautiful cirrus clouds you are moving like well-trained draft horses, you are layering the moon in veils. Jeremiah and I discuss the feeding habits of bass which is to say we are strategizing, and getting near the hunt. If you can find Jesus in Frank O’Hara’s poetry – and you can – you can find Jesus anywhere.

On the other hand, D.’s apartment in Burlington, eating cantelope after midnight on a ragged futon, nowhere near the end of the futility inherent in language. Spindly marigolds, a handful of violets. One waits on the mail and at last it arrives and all it ever brings is yet another night of wondering what tomorrow’s mail will bring.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I continue to believe – and to act as if – I can think my way to happiness. Honeysuckle blooms, buttercups, turtles navigating difficult roads. Near the old bridge, a clutch of poison ivy, and in the forest moose tracks, which at times one feels they would follow into Vermont.

Trout, tomatoes, pickles and basil wrapped in dough wrapped in foil and baked in coals while the sun sets. There never was enough whiskey for the thirst I pretended to be.

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