THINGS I MUST SAY TO YOU THE CRYSTAL SAID
for Layla Proulx
Things I must say to you the crystal said.
Jewels I must turn in the light.
Things I have gathered
like wild herbs from the starfields
to make a cool poultice of the moon
to draw the pain out of the wound
like a child that got turned around
when she was born
on the nightside of her blue eyes
to colour outside the lines of her constellation
like one of the original watersheds of Aquarius
that didn’t take to the bottle and spoon of lesser wells
that warily sip from themselves
as if they were testing for poison,
but poured herself out
in an elation of so many lifelines
so many rivers vital with beginnings
the world mountain discovered her
like gold in the stone
gold in the mindstream
gold in the ore of its bones
gold that shone even in the darkest of valleys
wherever she flowed
like the white moon
when it wants to be mistaken for a swan
and sheds her eyelids like the petals of a waterlily
that’s gone, gone, gone beyond herself
like a waterbird into the undetectable mystery of things
that lifts us up from our own reflections
and calls us to exceed ourselves
by flying beyond our own wings
past the last lake at the end of the universe
we could bask in like a keyhole
in the third eye of an unrelenting sky.
There. That’s a breathful.
A dust-devil in a gust of stars.
A precipitous river of my own.
But I like listening to the green mountains
talk about things that are perennially true
that no one ever believes.
There’s inspiration in the fires
that inspires their leaves
to burn like old myths
and poems that went up in flames
true to the muse of autumn
that has forgotten their names.
And I’m listening to this little world mountain
this dolmen of a crystal you gave me
this palace of mirrors
that sits above my desk
and tells me things about you
only an older spirit than the road I’m on could know.
It whispers to me at night
like a fragrance of light
from the unseen flowers
behind your eyes
flowing down from the high fields
and unscalable facets
of the mystic mountain you live upon
Abruptly enlightened medieval Rinzai Zen masters
did the same
in the mountains of Japan
as if they were rooting their pupils
like worlds within worlds
within a grain of sand
like the cornerstone of it all.
Trees are the future memories
of a prophetic skull
that stays true to its ancestors
like pines in the fall.
Anyone who plants a tree
raises a temple to the wisdom of birds
who will speak to you
in the native tongue of a new language
in voices older than words.
Anyone who plants a tree
attains what lives beyond them like an afterlife
that’s always rooted in now
and even the dead branch
that holds the autumn crow in the rain
when things are bleak with the passage of things
will turn into a strong rafter in the house of life
and the moon will add its blossom to it
and the sun its butterfly
and everything that grows
will greet you as a child of its own.
And life will hold you up
like a candle
like a Douglas fir
like a star
like the tiered pagoda
of a pine-cone
like a mirror
like a bird
like a quiet smile
in the sweetest of solitudes
and well-pleased with what you’ve sown
hang you like a thousand shining chandeliers of rain
in the sacred groves of the Pleiades
to show you what has grown over the years
from the labours you undertook
from the tears you shed
to green the wounded mountain back to health
by adding your life to its life
is you returning
like a prodigal daughter of water
to the mystic springs
of your own starcrazy source.
Ride the wave.
Ride the snake.
Ride the wind.
Ride the fire.
Ride your own eyebeam
like a sword that delivers
the boon of life
like the first word
of a new universe
that’s just heard its name called
like an endless beginning.
You are comet. You are wheat. You are starwheat.
You’re a comet in the starwheat
making crop circles.
Aquarians can take their skin off
and put it on again like water
and pour themselves out forever
like the sea in every drop
so when the tide returns
it’s never empty-handed.
I see a naked watersnake
swimming through the moonlight
like the path of something perpetually true
and inconceivably beautiful
as if time itself had learned to move like that
and every ripple was an era
widening its wingspan in its wake.
Hic sunt dracones.
That’s how dragons learned to fly.
The highest and the lowest all in one.
The snake in the claws of the eagle.
Wisdom in the lawlessness of insight.
For those who haven’t opened
the eyes in their blood yet
to see the bloodflowers
talking to each other
like variations of the same light
these visions are the lost dreamgrammar
of an ancient madness
you can’t recover from like a fever.
But to those who know the fireflies
are lamps on the road
the stars are not useless
and everywhere is the clarity and passage
of a river that forever arrives.
And I can see the wounded child
who’s brave about her pain
but feels like a ladder in the rain
no one will hold for her
to climb down like the moon from her window.
And those that should have been waiting down below
to catch her if she falls
have scattered like stars
on the insides of her eyelids when she blinks.
Abandonment is that hollow shell
you find washed up somewhere on a beach
and raise to your ear
to hear the sea far off
like a life that’s going on without you.
Even the sea can’t fill that cup.
Only another emptiness
could feel at home
in the homelessness of that space.
Abandonment is getting up every morning
and putting your face on inside out
and thinking of it as some kind of good luck
you’re on the other side of the universe
all on your own.
And though you howl like a wolf on the wind
the moon still cannot hear you.
That’s how longing is born
in the fires of separation;
that’s how the universe is called
every moment out of the nothingness
like someone to love,
and the deeper and darker the emptiness
the higher and brighter the mountain.
The watershed holds the fountain up
like a bouquet to the rain.
Emptiness doesn’t stand like a god
in the shadow of an unknown definition.
It’s the selflessness of everything that is.
Unborn it lives without distinction in the heart of things.
Unperishing it dies for everyone
without leaving anyone out.
When insight blossoms
like the moon
on a dead branch
compassion’s the fruit
that’s always in reach.
Life doesn’t practise
what the heartless teach.
I’m sitting at the feet
of your little crystal buddha
enthroned in full lotus position
as he turns my heart in the light
like a jewel in the eye of a diamond-cutter.
And the sky is generous with tears
as it clarifies the windows of perception
with eyes as old and wise
as the sun at midnight.
And every thought I have of you is a fierce peace.
And every feeling a black mirror
deeper than white
that has extinguished my face
like one of last night’s stars
in the bliss of a greater illumination.
The mystic specificity of my mind
pales like the moon
in a blinding abyss
of no-minded indistinction.
And the stars that shone down on nothing for so long
like an indecipherable language
are now looking up at you
like the fountainmouth
high above the treeline
in the mountains
of an Aquarian understanding
of what they’ve always meant to say.
There are no echoes in the voices of love.
No avalanche of Rosetta Stones.
No scoffing crows.
No genuflections of the dove.
There are no shadows hiding like daggers
under the cloaks of day
to get even at noon
for things that happened at midnight.
Love is a feather
from a passing bird in flight
life puts into the scales
and the earth turns eastward toward the light
and death takes its finger off the measure
of life’s most cherished treasure.
And now the buddha turns into
two lovers sitting upright
face to face
in a lotus embrace
of enlightened connubium
in a coincidence of the contradictories
as if two were not the extinction of one.
And when desire opens its flames like petals
and blooms like a phoenix
there are no strangers in the fire.
And love doesn’t burn its feet
by making a firewalk
of the nameless constellation
rising from the dark innocence
of its sweet dreamless sleep
like the thirteenth house of the zodiac
with two people home from everywhere
with myths of their own
like Venus and Mars
turning the lights on and off
like lovers and stars
while the neighbours stare in amazement
through closed windows and locked doors
at the bright vacancy of the rumours
the dark abundance of the night
that knows all we are and do
and will and have done
is true to the overproof joy I take
in this lyric of a jewel in the light.
It turns me like your eyes
turning the key in the dark gate
of a mystic moonrise
where fate elaborates the worlds
like pearls from grains of sand
and time refires its last hour
like a master glass blower
to make more space
for stars in the desert at night
by breathing on the flames
that feather the ashes of the moths
in the urns of our names
with the wings
of a dragon
the wings of a phoenix
the wings of a sphinx in the rain
planting trees on the slopes of a pyramid
to watch the dead mountain grow green again
and know all the secret paths down into its afterlife
like a river running through the wilderness
or this theme of stars on the mindstream
beguiled by the mystic wiles
of a cougar caught in the moonlight
like a jewel in the eye of a dreamcatcher.
Or the seasoned seer in a mirror like me
enraptured by the anarchic fireflies
like the mandalic stars
of a new constellation
only the enlightened can see
enflamed like a prophecy
empowered by love
to rise in the night of your name.