Beneath a Chalice

There is a way the butterfly – a swallowtail – appears to fall into the faint pink morning glory rising from tangled forsythia near the barn. One watches and thinks again of the dream from a few night’s back – in which one asks why is experience subjective and realizes instantly it is not.

Combing through deadfall apples in tall grass, thinking of winter waffles covered with melted butter and warm sauce. Another night of poor sleep, this time owing to dogs howling at a distance, triggering a neural interstice that says “check on the livestock” who, as it turns out, are sitting quietly, only mildly interested in my visit. And yet the moon does seem to pass through the sky and sink into the horizon and reappear hours later opposite. Stars do not sustain the darkness, nor is darkness what makes them possible. When Ramana Maharshi died, why didn’t the inclination to write about him also die?

And so one begins at last to see the way in which metaphors and analogies only cloud what is otherwise clear. How else could we long for what we cannot have? All you need to know about the image is that it is always a reflection.

Children’s voices rise softly next door after their parents fight about money, finding their way back to what passes for normalcy (in days and nights such as these). We pause when the church bells ring, then carry on with what we were saying which, hours later, is forgotten. Bright yellow lilies near the barn, as big as two hands cupped beneath a chalice, make it hard to pass without stopping. Time is what fills up with what appears, that’s all.

Glancing at Patchen, that lovely line from In Shadings of an Obscure Punishment that goes “I watch my life choose its own awakening.” Hugging a woman with wet hair and no regrets. Driving past Sawyer Farm where wild turkeys graze just-mowed fields where forty years ago our cows summered to come back pregnant. Of course a heart cannot break.

Your father is still dead but fathers are not dead and you too are a father. This is what Sunday looks like when you know there is nobody watching.

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Songs for the Man Without Ears to Hear

Yet what is the nature of willingness? Of justice or love? What does it mean to say God is neither trivial nor real? Just after dawn I take a hot black coffee out back and scuff through fallen apples, making a brief but intense study of red. Machines don’t do better but they do go faster, obviating those of us disposed to linger. There are seams in the door to the hay loft, each bleeding prisms of light, as if this or any other journey were capable of ending. There were days when all that mattered was the sound a woman’s shirt made falling to the floor. Wordless prayers? Prayerless hymns? Well, songs for the man without ears to hear anyway. I walk to the river where the ghost of Heraclitus presumes a familiar argument. I ignore him, remove my feet and knees and ankles, and continue dissembling what remains of intent.

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