Our lives are changed forever or are forever changing or is it that we are changing forever through the beloved lens of attention? Acorns fall, snow melts, geese can be seen grazing in the far corner of the pasture. All the ways this October is not any other October! Deepening unto yet more deepening. Is this what they meant when they said stillness? At 5 a.m. I give up on going it alone and ask for help and that which shows up isn’t helpful and anyway keeps going. I cast aside my shoes, now I have to cast aside my feet as well? We flee before that which reminds us of that from which we flee. The clouds are here and then they are there and in between them floats . . . precisely what? At dusk I run my hand along the horse’s mane, talk to it in low tones about the many Kingdoms I left behind in order to arrive here, empty-handed but not unprepared. The lovelily prism cast by the lens of attention becomes us you see. Not even the mountains kneel anymore, not even the river kneels. Even the old barn cat on her haunches by the gate – swinging open, swinging shut – is thinking it over. Again. And again. And again.
So much is clarified which is to say there is now an ongoing clarification in which one trusts. We slow down driving in order to observe geese settling in recently-harvested potato fields. When will I stop being surprised at how little it takes to be happy? Or – better – when will I consent to just be happy? She doesn’t know, she doesn’t say. All the reasons we adopt this or that narrative, including the narrative that narrative adopts us. Broadly speaking, the whorls of a nautilus vs. many grains of sand. One of the best bread bakers I ever met walks by holding a baby but I forget her name, remember it too late and anyway have no real energy for sustained conversation with relative strangers, even talented ones who gaze directly at hunger. Certain relationships are simply not helpful (if they ever were) and saying so means a broad space emerges which allows for slow turns and other forms of reconsideration. Luna belongs to nobody and you don’t need a passport to spend a lifetime writing poems. Shall we get ahead of thought or simply disregard it? Who cares at this late juncture? I was happiest fishing with him, especially when I was young, Bronson Brook at dusk and who cares what if anything you catch, but now he is dead and I no longer fish. Leaves fall, and keep falling. Stars fall. Now I write this sentence. Now I write another.
I am trying to make sense of the hurt and of the insistence on hurting myself, the latter as perhaps a form of penance, but more likely revenge against the one perceived as having started all the hurt in the first place. Write what you would rather not look at? One wakes up sore and confused on the couch, their dreams a blur of aesthetic directives – you should listen to classical music vs. I’d rather listen to new age music – and interior rooms to which one is confined by choice. Yet so often the one we would hurt no longer cares – has long since forgotten – was hurt themselves – received in advance what passed for our consent – or whatever – and so where are we then in the Freudian mythology? I can’t make sense of my body anymore, especially its application to intimacy, or am I just now seeing the problem? Jesus makes sense, as always, especially through the lens of A Course in Miracles, which naturally we can’t let go of fast enough. When we arrived home I dumped the last of the bad coffee on the driveway and went inside to read, later slumping on the couch like a troll whose bridge was being repaired and had no other place to go. Is it true that we are going to die? Would I let her kiss me – would I let her do more – or only share a cup of tea? Morning comes and brings with it the same old script, the same old story, the same old song and agitprop. Someone fiddles, someone else burns. Meanwhile, between smoke and portamenti, this. This this.
Rain falls – everything is muted – but I am not muted. Hours after midnight sitting beneath the apple tree while the horses come and go, breathing and stamping in the moisty dark. Even thought leaves me alone now, but Chrisoula visits, as vast and encompassing as where one goes when they are no longer bent on being holy or unholy. How many yellow leaves can my shoulders bear? What is it they whisper going down? How many disciples have to throw their sandals into the sea just to get my attention? Whose idea was Jesus? And what if this little upturned turtle shell – the one Chrisoula made me at Fitzgerald Pond with a kiss – won’t reach the far shore? Yet when I turn to the house she is there waiting and in her tired gaze I am all at once lifted. Made whole? Well, the night does pass and I do refuse sleep and so the day does rise like a tide against my knees. Why did Sean make an art of forsaking love? Why did he insist on going shoeless through the snow, year after year after year? A lifetime of aimless paddling redeemed by a vigilant Greek woman, the way Socrates always said it would happen. At dawn I tell her I am scared I have confused visions of Christ with chickadees, and chickadees with visions of Christ. “But I am always laying you down on simmering pine needles,” she whispers, easing me down just so. “I am always giving you my Name,” she breathes, and wreathes me in her circumference, and carries me home through the door.
And was it dusk when I went out to sit beneath the apple tree? And were those stars glittering above the northern hills? And was it the last of the coffee I took with me? And was the sky also filled with clouds that neither moved nor changed their shape? Were the horses present? Was there not a sense of attendance – both attending and being attended? What is the function of memory in poetry? And was the chair sufficient? What shoes did I wear? Was the mug in which the coffee cooled too quickly sufficient? Whose teeth hurt? Whose voices could be heard on the distant street? What were the pigs saying to each other? How were they saying it? What argument was being made, what argument was being conceded? Who decided? Who knows? Are ankles intelligent? What was redacted? What was felt but ignored? What good are my hands? You were far away – why?
So you wait on the one who waits on you and together you make an almost-circle that never quite meets. Isn’t it strange, this capacity to stand in the way of joy? Sunlight makes the world bearable, each falling yellow leaf a blessing undoing every crucifixion ever, even the one that brought us together in spite of our illusory wills. My lips on your shoulder, your tongue on my throat . . . We elevate the simplest impulse in a vain attempt to discover the holiness that already resides in the salt saliva and semen of which we are so lovelily made. In other words – in the spirit of the Husserlian bracketing – why not just be a body? Dance when the spirit says dance, fuck when the spirit says . . . well, yes – of course the spirit sometimes asks us to fuck. Syllables abound as if to make clear the song is going nowhere, no matter how naked or not-naked one gets. The moon is silent and still in the well-lit circumference of me – surely you have noticed this as well. Isn’t it a sorrow that she thought she would disappoint me when what I wanted were her precisely soft and gentle billows willingly opening because they were her? Isn’t it a grief that my bland concerns about size and shape interfered with grace, with the gift that begged to be both given and received? In other words, the forgiveness you are bound to share against the sins I insist on inventing.
How slow one goes, or can go, on the cusp of attention. What you mean vs. what you say vs. what you are perceived to have meant, where “vs.” is indicative not of conflict but relationship, and “you” is not subject to kisses, mine or anyone else’s. The many sparrows, the many gusts of wind. The feeling of being carried away so often confused with the feeling of being carried back. Well, we always did have trust issues. Because I wake so early, by mid-afternoon waves of exhaustion threaten and no amount of coffee can right the capsizing vessel, though the drowning do sing their pretty going-down songs. That which has been blessed cannot subsequently go without its blessing after all. In her dream crows address the missing preponderance of rain and she wakes a detective of the weather, a regular gumshoe of downfalling. Meantime, I sit quietly at night beneath the apple tree and pretend I can hear the moon breathe. The familiar game getting more so all the time? Maybe. The Beloved says it’s only a love letter if nobody reads it. But you already knew that, didn’t you?