DOGPADDLING IN THE WIND
Dogpaddling in the wind
with the black walnut trees.
My thoughts sway with the breeze
and whatever I’m feeling
I’m at ease with the way things are
and are not
for the moment.
But it’s a relative truth
not an absolute way of being.
I don’t expect it to last.
It’s not the kind of peace
that comes with a past
that’s rooted in anything.
Among the great perennial acts of grace
that flower like goldenrod and loosestrife
all through these abandoned fields
that have returned to themselves
like veterans of foreign wars
on someone else’s doorstep
it’s just a blade of grass.
But I’m grateful.
I don’t know to whom or what.
God’s more of a political party now than a candidate.
But a vote for one is a vote for all of them
and as the Arabs say about the secret garden
I try to enter heaven by the right gate
and for me that’s always been the backdoor.
Blueweed chicory vetch Queen Anne’s Lace
and three kinds of clover
blooming along this road I’m walking on
like a snake flowing through Eden
as the late afternoon air settles its dust
and cools into an eye
of blue-green peacock sky
at the first sight of Venus
taking the long way around the sun
high in the west on her own.
And a little further along the ecliptic
the first crescent of the moon
thinner than a sword-edge of Damascene steel.
An eyelash of the radiance
that fell from the night
while it was trying
to feel its way into stars
emerging out of the abyss
of an intuitive inspiration
that spoke to the light of the darkness inside
through a crack in a mirror
that once was blind
but now can see again.
Sometimes I think all the stories we make up
about the origins of creation
are just the mythical hindsight
of why we bear
the unbearable pain of living
that would drive us undeniably insane
if we didn’t have a lie or two to fall back on
even if it’s merely to marvel
that the immensity of so much
over such immeasurable reachs of time
could mean so spectacularly little.
Call it imagination
but it’s really only the genius of wonder
that pictures things on the inside
to give what’s dark and unknown
a place around the fire
like strangers far from home.
It’s a kind of spiritual hospitality
that lets the world in
like a nightstorm
through the windows and the doors
of our eyes our minds
our hearts our pores
even when it tracks emotional starmud
all over our immaculately deceptive floors.
Nothing stays clean for very long.
The meaning gets soiled in matter.
And compassion’s always been
an outrageously messy affair
that seldom picks up after itself
when there’s no one around to care.
I pick up an old hand-painted sign
that’s overturned in the matted grass
at the foot of a basswood tree
that’s hung on to the nail
like somebody’s word.
Trespassers keep out.
Violators will be shot.
But there hasn’t been anybody
around here for years
to hear the open gate tell it
as if the woods had ears
and there was nothing to worry about.
Somebody once owned a grain of dirt
in the oceanic enormity of a place
that dwarfs the stars
like homesick bodhisattvas
with the boundless space
there is yet to enlighten
before we can all enter paradise
like gardeners bedding down with hunters.
In the meantime
life waits like a loveletter
in a mailbox full of bullet-holes
for somebody that was meant
to read it and understand it
without knowing who it’s from.