YOUR OWN LIFE IS THE WAY
Your own life is the way
whether it charm itself through the woods
like a small snail
or kick the stars up like dust
along the Road of Ghosts
or hang back like the sea
enduring its own weather
waiting for the next loveletter
to arrive like a sail
over the event horizons
of so much unopened junkmail.
But you’re a long way off
and deeper in darkness
than you realize
if you’re using a searchlight
to look for a star.
There’s no reason
to keep showing up
at the wrong address
like a bad definition
of who you are.
You go looking
for the meaning of things
as if meaning were precious and rare,
baby teeth under a pillow
or lost wedding rings
through the noses
of unmarried skulls.
You chase your own tides
back out to sea
and then go ask the waves
trembling in their tidal pools
like children you’ve frightened
about the meaning of water.
But when they tell you
your mouth hangs open
like a grail in the hand of a drunk
who’s sure she just drank poison.
You want to pry
the petals of the flowers open
before they’re ready to bloom
as if you were unwrapping your presents early
although nothing’s been hidden from you,
cloaked, eclipsed, or covered by a lie.
You paint the window you sit at
all the colours of a parrot
to enhance the clarity
of your longing for stars,
or scare yourself to death
with things you can see in the night
like someone who’s been left behind
like a key under your own doormat.
The return journey goes faster than the first
as you progress backwards
looping like a planet
through all the stations of your youth
into the second innocence of awareness
knowing how deeply the soul
can be soiled by the truth
of things as they are
and how, sometimes
to the baffled astonishment of the purists
it takes a little dirt to wash it off;
which is to say, you’re human.
Not one reason for everything.
You keep ploughing the same broken record
like a season stuck in a groove
never leaving anything long enough to itself
to germinate and bloom.
Even when the moon
walks on your waters
tapping its white cane
at the curb of every wave
to show you how to master
your own blindness
with your own light in the darkness
of why you won’t open your eyes and look,
you cover your face with your hands like a book
you fell asleep reading.
But you can’t wake up from a dream
you’re not having.
You can’t look into life
like a window from the outside
or arrange your eyes
like lenses in a telescope
to view things at arms length.
I know how hard
you’ve been looking for enlightenment
and the agony of your disappointment
that you can’t pull the sword from the stone
or the apple from the seed like autumn.
You account the waste
of time, energy, aspiration,
and want to burn the whole orchard down
like a bride widowed in her wedding gown.
But the fire you set
like a last blossom on a dead branch
goes out like a torch in your own reflection
and you’re lost in the woods at night
without a road going in any direction.
You thought you’d hang around
with the constellations,
but there you are
whenever you kick the earth
like a stool away from your feet
dangling like a streetlamp in space
with only go slow and stop
the three expressions
that ever cross your face
like birds hoping they’re heading south.
And I don’t want to sound mean or unkind,
or suggest that I know
how stars taste to the blind,
or that you’re not a fury of insight,
a blazing chandelier, a broken mirror,
but when you cry
you launch your tears like submarines
into your own paranoid depths
to listen to what the others
are saying about you now
and you deploy your emotions like spies
to keep an eye on the opening night projections
you’re trying to groom into a movie
where everything comes true
all at once
in a stunning climax of you
holding out like a bridge at the fall of Rome.
Let go. Give up. Let the barbarians across
that you’ve abused
with the severity
of your savage passions for years.
Abandon the walls
you’ve beaded like a rosary of skulls
around your imperial frontiers.
How can the frowning jewels
of a dying civilization
dragging itself by the heels
like a corpse through the night
compare with the more imperfectible delights
of leaving the mindstream to its own devices
as if it were wise enough all alone
to make its own circuitous way home
like blood returning to the heart
while we, who don’t know the answers,
throw our swords back into the lake
as if we were surrendering to water.
We could feed the demons
of our startling immensities
all those doves you sent out looking for land
that came back like cornerstones of quicksand.
We could stop trying to square the circle
like college drop outs
trying to corner the rain
and forgo the blinding lucidity
of what we think we know
for the darker esprit
of being swept far out to sea
like two castles effaced by the undertow
of an abyss even the light can’t cross.
We could lower our bridges
and open our gates
and liberate our prisons
as if we were making love
like two more bad little reasons to live.