DOES THE EYE OF THE RAIN
Does the eye of the rain know it’s a tear?
Does that ray of light know
that even at night
it’s a revolutionary among flowers?
Between the giver and the given
between a human and his god
between a human and her void
the gift of a gift of a gift.
And the gifts aren’t hidden
even when you cover your eyes.
I saw a baglady the other day
who hadn’t given it all away yet
who was positively beatific
in an atmosphere
that only she could breathe
but the shining under her rags
told me she lived on light.
She was a waterlily in a swamp.
And I wondered if she knew it.
What I don’t know I intuit
so even if she did
how could that add
one drop of bliss
to an abyss that was already full?
Experience makes a gift of a school.
The blossom grants the apple its absence.
The wind is Johnny Appleseed.
Or the mad old farmer at the end of his life
that was seen hanging on to the tail
of a black bull
in the backwoods of
sowing the groves with grain.
So the birches had bread
he gave aways his brain.
So the dead know
we haven’t departed
we leave them our pain
in the company of flowers.
Things don’t have origins.
They have givers.
Even in math
giving is an axiomatic fact.
Does the sumac know it’s a phoenix in the fall?
The lifework of a universe
in every eyelash
in every bud on the locust tree
in every branch of coral on the moon
in every pimple on your ass.
If the all were not whole in the least of us
all things would cease to exist.
Life wouldn’t be possible
if it ever short-changed itself
watered a gram
diluted the whiskey
thinned our blood like a mosquito.
Life would be an also-ran
that didn’t quite make it to the moon.
Does the stone
that forged it out of fire and iron
know it’s giving Excalibur
back to the water?
Or the magician his wand?
The diviner his witching rod?
The poet his computer?
Giving isn’t a moral vow
you make to the universe.
It’s the way we survive.
Say one word truly in any language
and you’ve endowed the gift of speech
on inanimate things that were mute
about all the things they had to tell you
in your own voice.
This is not mysticism.
This is not science.
This is not the Uncertainty Principle
of some random atomic spiritual life.
I’m not drinking my reflection
from the wellspring of a mirror.
It’s as clear as a chandelier.
You can’t keep
what you won’t give away.
And it isn’t the giver.
It isn’t the given.
It’s the giving that’s crucial.
The Buddha gave Ananda a rose.
I don’t know what kind of flower it was for sure
but let’s suppose.
It isn’t the rose that’s famous
it’s the giving that has come down to us
through the years
thorns and all
heart to heart
hand to hand
human to human
rose petals on the mindstream.
The enlightened dreams
of an unttainable man.
If you’re ice
dispassionate as entropy
profound as blue glass to an ancient Roman
you’re still not sublime
until you learn to give it all away.
Empty the urns of the fireflies
like the ghosts of earthbound insights
and scatter their ashs on the wind
and they’ll tell you how
to light the night up
and play like water
that doesn’t know how to live any other way.
Giving took water for a body
as soon as it saw how beautiful
the wild iris and blue narcissus were.
Wisdom is water.
Compassion is water.
And there’s no end of the modes of it.
Water is the light’s favourite mirror.
And the most fun.
And what are we
if not clouds
if not wombs
cut off from the sea like kites
if not sacks of water
fruit that leaks like a crucified pear
hoping if we’ve got to be poured out of ourselves
it’s over a garden.
Chandeliers of rain when we cry
even the windows have learned
to weep along with us
glaciers and glass
slow inexorable tears
that like to linger on the past
as if there future weren’t full of it.
Like a garden in the fall
that gives what it’s got left to the birds
however you think you’ve emptied the cup
such is the generosity of water
there’s always one last
unfathomable watershed of a drop left
to give back to the water-giver.
And when you do
pour it away from you
like Dogen Zenji
as a sign of respect for the river.