I was sorting through bits and pieces of writing collected over the years and came upon a comment sent to another writer. I expressed how their writing took me to that “other dimension” the moment “just beyond” the witnessing. They suggested I try to form words around the dimension I was describing…..it felt ineffable.
“Summer was like your house: you knew where each thing stood. Now you must go out into your heart as onto a vast plain. Now the immense loneliness begins. The days go numb, the wind sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
THE OTHER SIDE
This morning forcing myself to rise from the Other Side of the bed the world a sky where rain fell no bombs not rising to cram essentials into small bags before entering a corridor of human strength and misery
This morning on the Other Side of the world the bed first foot met the floor with “Thank” the second “You” humanity rising no Other Side to Courage Truth Freedom
We rise unstoppable tide forcing everything everyone Forward.
You now know that anything could happen; things that never happened before, things that only happened in movies and nightmares are happening now, as if nothing could stop them. You know now that you are not safe, you know you live in fragile skin and bones, that even steel and concrete can melt away, and the earth itself can come unhinged, shaken from its orbit around the sun. You know, now that anything can happen, it’s hard to know what will, and what will you do now that you know? What words will you say now that you could say anything? What hands will you hold? Whose heart will beat inside you?
Joyce Sutphen, “Now That Anything Could Happen” From Naming the Stars. 2004 _____________________________________________________
Not a Commercial Operation “now that anything can happen, it’s hard to know what will“
The wind was picking up, whitecaps appeared as a small boat floated into sight. Trailing behind was a questionably seaworthy barge hauling a large propane truck, both were being buffeted by the growing swells. The boat was moving closer to shore appearing to zig zag in an attempt to jockey the barge into a less precarious position. I watched as the barge rocked back and forth, at times no longer visible, giving the illusion that the propane truck was making its own way across the water.
I called the Coast Guard, explained what I was witnessing and was put on hold. They came back and advised me that there were no commercial operations in the area. They did not need to convince me that this was not a professionally orchestrated commercial operation. Feeling their job was done they ended with “people do all kinds of things”.
I watched the boat and truck bob and weave it’s way out of sight, the thought that lingered was how familiar it felt each time a wave hit and the barge disappeared below the water line. I recognized it was the emotion we have been living with the past two years.
The truck is too big for the barge, the boat is too small to be pulling it and the wind and waves are never reliably consistent. We are living in a world now “that anything can happen” and as we are being reminded every day “people do all kinds of things”
So, I extend my hand to yours as we all jump forward into this New Year and ask the question ….
“What words will you say now that you could say anything?”
It has been a while …. I recently joined a writing group that uses ‘jump off lines’ from poems to get us writing ‘wild writing’. I plan to post one of these ‘wild writings’ every week and see where it leads.
IT BEGAN WHEN……
It began when I spoke something, something that sounded like a promise, that tasted both foreign and sincere on my tongue.
It began when there was no doubt your body was dying, when that promise had to be unearthed, examined, acted upon.
It began when I held your hand and it came time to say goodbye, the gifts and pain that flowed from that touch.
It began when I went to the shore sobbing, as a scene played out between a man and his dog.
It was all ‘clothing optional’.
It began when there was no other option but to release, everything, clothing being the least of it, that first layer easily removed.
It began when attempts to control anything moved forward like a tsunami, spilling onto ground, exploding into air, inhaled by merciless waves.
It began when you asked me where I was going and I replied “Wherever my feet take me.”
Yes, that was the moment it really began, when feet carried me to the edge of a waterfall
This statement reached my ears and I was unable to process the meaning, my deep heart had no such trouble.
“I am Losing my Mother Words”
These words were in response to a call from an adult son. A call to his mother, an attempt to make sense of the myriad of events tearing humanity apart. He was looking perhaps for ‘mother words’ of long ago, the ones that somehow put pieces back in order, that securely strapped you in even if it turned into a bumpy ride.
His question was one of bewilderment, how so many failed to see beauty, failed to choose peace over war, acceptance over hate.
I too am losing my ‘mother words’, my initial reaction was deep sadness but I soon realized that the ‘mother words’ of the present were of no use to either myself or any intended recipients. They were slowly being unmade, new words were forming, sent from the Ancestors for Future Generations. Words of transition and transmutation.
The speaker then described the beauty of apple blossoms in her garden and then the horror of bombs falling in another part of the world. What ‘mother words’ were being spoken by mothers and fathers huddled together holding children close as bombs exploded around them? What words will comfort in that reality?
A discussion on how ‘breaking down‘ is often a portal to ‘breaking through‘ prompted a friend to forward the attached poem to me.
We had been using the metaphor of snorkeling to describe the approach many of us take towards the bigger questions of life. If not forced by circumstance to confront something, we snorkel, safe on the surface just looking into the depths.
We toyed with the image of putting on tanks, diving down to interact with and perhaps touch what we find, or a diving suit, a submersible that allows a walk on the bottom of our unconscious. A few days later I had the image of “free diving” unencumbered by any sort of attachment to the surface except the air you captured in your lungs…. doing a deep dive…
Surrender……. not the ‘giving in to‘ but the ‘living in to‘ the “promiscuous” present moment.
The descent by Gina Puorro
There are things you can only learn on your knees or in a storm or when the cracks in the foundation of this modern world open a chasm of uncertainty beneath your feet. Your discontent with what has been named normal is both grief and longing for what your mind has forgotten but your body remembers.
You can feel it in the way a child’s laughter disrupts your commitment to what is appropriate and makes space for foolishness and magic. You can feel it broken open at the altar of all you’ve lost and how much you’ve loved. Can we fall apart together? Make a commitment to search for the truth but promise to never find it. Let myths and stories be the cartograph for what is both primordial and brand new because the present moment is promiscuous like that. Compost ourselves down into the dirt beneath the dirt and tend the chthonic embers that light the ancient fires in our bellies.
When the fault lines open and your mind is grasping and you don’t know in the way that water has taught you how to be a vessel and how to spill. Can you trace your lineage all the way back to salt? the same that now stains your face with both sadness and laughter excites your tongue and protects your prayers. You are diasporic. Ecological. Holon. A vast territory of many wild bodies melting into each other dressed up as human. Simultaneously living and dying shaping and dismantling filling up and boiling over.
Ashes to ashes stardust to bone. What language do you grieve in? What is the mother tongue for that which twists and contorts your body wringing oceans from your skin? The gravity that pulls you down to your knees forehead to ground where to go from here; prostrate trade rapture for rupture let yourself spill and descend.
Wandering on the ‘misty isle‘ I happened upon reflections in a dark pond, the message of the photograph became the two directions, up and down, towards and away, only revealed when the image was turned sideways.
Yesterday a friend introduced me to this poem by Quinn Bailey.
When our internal or external worlds are turned sideways, that can sometimes be “when the boulder in front of the cave begins to shift”
THE ONLY TWO DIRECTIONS BY QUINN BAILEY
This world has only two true directions: Towards and away.
The big fear, in the end, is to awake and find that You chose away.
That the hand Which held you down Was none other Than your own.
The pursuit Of that which is not truly us Renders even the most Powerful vision useless
When the boulder in front of the cave begins to shift
When that first illuminating shaft Pierces the dark
Do not hesitate long
Do not waste time Anticipating the griefs Yet to come
They cannot be helped and perhaps are necessary
On that long And awkward walk Towards yourself.
Quinn Bailey The Currents of the World 2020 Homebound Publications
This poem by William Stafford speaks of a thread, I feel it also speaks to the times.
“You don’t ever let go of the thread.“
THE WAY IT IS by William Stafford
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you can do to stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread.
Hello darkness my old friend I’ve come to talk with you again because a vision softly creeping left its seeds while I was sleeping and the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains within the sound of silence.
Sound of Silence Simon and Garfunkel
THE SOUND OF SILENCE
In this year of a thousand months a silence has settled, palpable, like silk against bare skin.
One by one freedoms slip away in an unintentional game of musical chairs until we find ourselves alone, gazing into the Great Mystery.
Fooled into thinking this was unexpected we see plans for this journey seeded long ago with every “yes” carelessly spoken.
Each moment becomes a new invitation, moving deeper like a lover searching for that place on your lip meant only for others.
Eyes closed, surrender drifts like wafting smoke to linger over new terrain, unsure of where to settle.
Shadows that once held fear dissipate with every wind gust, free now to ride this undulating movement…
The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was your self. Give wine. Give Bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life.
– Derek Walcott
…..As I put the key into the lock and opened the door to ‘the loft’ on this distant island that feels so very far from home, this poem came to mind. It is a piece that has haunted me for a few years perhaps because I don’t want the message to be true.
There is no ‘magical other’ waiting to save us from ourselves or from the circling storm of uncertainty that surrounds us.
There is a welcome shedding of expectation that comes from the words, a sigh of relief that the only goal is to “give back your heart to itself” and “peel your own image from the mirror.” Those things in themselves appear to be insurmountable right now but when compared with continuing this exhausting upstream swim, the image of simply floating with the current back to my “own door” is indeed a feeling of “elation.”
The latch is well worn, many have opened it and returned …..
The summer is slipping away, you feel it in the cool of the dawn before the dew evaporates.
It is in the darkness arriving minutes sooner as each day comes to a close.
These times have been at once, strange, tragic and transformative. We are lurching towards a Fall that is unpredictable and unknown at best.
The poem below has been appearing for me in partial and complete form many times in the last few days and I want to share it before “The Summer Day” has passed.
The last two lines are ones I will be repeating to myself daily as we edge slowly forward.
The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down- who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
“A life that is truly lived is constantly burning away the veils of illusion, gradually revealing the essence of the individual.” Marion Woodman
Wandering almost always takes me to the edge of the ocean, especially if I wander alone. These days that seems to be my preference. The last wander brought me to a beach that was deserted except for two young girls who appeared to be about ten years old. Close to the shore they had fashioned a structure out of driftwood and returned to the water’s edge to find something to use as siding.
Seaweed, thick, wide and long proved to be the perfect material. I watch as one of the girls held two strands, one on each shoulder. It gave the impression of a veil from my vantage point. Her companion followed her lead and they both squealed in delight as they headed back to their ‘house’ trailing their gifts from the sea unaware of anyone watching in the distance…..I was the congregation, they were Brides of the Sea.
Brides of the Sea
Partially formed Mermaids Oceanic without curves trailing seaweed veils skin of the sea, from small bare shoulders unable yet to carry the weight of the world.
My heart calls out… Be Brides of the Sea ride the swells surrender to the crest the trough, the holy trinity Earth, Moon, Sea
No paper hearts No man-made veils, love, honor, obey all that isn’t spoken, one deep dive Body, Heart, Soul.