JUMPED OUT OF NOTHING
Jumped out of nothing. The fish did. Golden.
A flake of the moon. When I wasn’t looking.
Into a lifeboat cupping something precious in its hands.
The mind an old junkyard that’s been collecting windows too long.
So many points of view. So many glass eyes
looking for the stuffed animals they belong to.
Death after knowledge. The silence that follows the music
after the bird has flown. Is the abyss death’s rebuke
of life’s dangerous proposal to let us look through the keyhole
at what’s going on in the uninhabitable room next door?
To dream a little in the interim between two enormities
abstracted from the need of our perishing to persist
aeonic light years beyond anything we can imagine?
The golden fish jumps into the boat like an unsought insight.
No hook in it. And you can tell by the scales of light it emanates
it’s risen from the starless darkness of its own depths
like moonrise out of the encyclopedic corals
of accumulated knowledge that’s found a place for everything
like a polyp on a library shelf, calcium in a cave
shaping itself into temples from the top down.
Stalagmites and stalactites of cathedrals inspired by water
to enshrine themselves in form as an aid to the blind.
Though things along the way might change
does the journey stay the same ad infinitum?
Did you amount to everything you dreamed you might be,
or were there more stairs to climb than doors to enter,
more walls than windows in the way you saw things?
I’ve seen the most sublime things humbled by their own insignificance.
And I think I’ve heard God more than once
weeping at the stern of a sinking ship for a turn of events
she couldn’t do anything about once they were set in motion.
And I’ve listened to people my whole life
talking in their sleep about how to put a rudder on a dream
as if there were a focus and a direction for life to flow in
like a solid, particulate thing instead of the wandering wavelength
of this exiled mirage of water that it appears to be
depending on the mood of the chameleonic mirror you’re looking into.
The donkey looks into the well and the well looks back at the donkey.
It couldn’t be any clearer than that. Tat tvam asi. But, then, again
why muddy the mirror by dropping the penny of the moon
down a wishing-well that never gets what it wants
and ask for something you’ve never really been missing?
I learned in my mother’s kitchen long before I went to school
that just because you can ask a question doesn’t mean
you have a right to expect an answer that satisfies you.
And even when you do receive an answer unexpectedly
it will be the quality of the question that determines its nature.
The single petal of a candle flame the size of the fire of life in your heart
like the apple-bloom of a thousand orchards in the Okanagan
thrives on the winds of change that blow it out and away
like a butterfly from the open palm of your hand
wise enough to know a hand is not just for grasping
and let it go like a mind of its own without knowing where.
Indirection is an indeterminate voyage of discovery,
a star’s way of probing the darkness radiantly
without knowing how the light’s going to be bent ahead of time.
Destination is a postcard from the edge of nowhere.
If you want to see anything worth looking at
while you’re still alive enough to know it like your own name
don’t adjust your eyes to the size of the window
you’re looking through like the keyhole of an orbitting telescope
but the spaciousness of your own mind like a sky
no starburst of bird, word, or thought has flown to the end of yet
Whether they’re bearing the souls of the dead south or west
like early transmigratory hearses yoked to a brace of angels or not.
Life still greens the tree with meaning even in the wordless dead of winter.
And who hasn’t been, from time to time, a thriving neighbourhood
that left town to seek its fortune buried in its own back yard
only to return empty-handed to watch its homelessness being torn down?
Those who see themselves as strangers in the doorways of their own houses of life
are those who ask the most questions about who that is
that threatens them the most from the inside out,
that offer escalating ransoms to their own shadows to let them go unharmed
the longer the silence refuses to identify itself like an answer
to the incomprehensible questions about what they’re doing here
like rivers weeping over what’s going to become of them
or the sun worrying about opening the wrong flowers
like somebody else’s mail without a return address
though all flowers like stars are loveletters addressed to everyone alike,
and it’s not hard to recognize a river in captivity by its handwriting
or the jewels of the dead from the eyes of the living by the accent the light
they speak in through the medium of a mother-tongue that slurs the distinction
between a seance and an exorcism once we realize we’ve been summoned
to the comings and goings of every breath, every step, every
mistake we make with our lives like a revealing insight into who lies
under these deathmasks we wear like crocuses in the spring
under the unpaginated duff of last autumn’s petals and leaves.
The way life carries on, it feels to me, is no different
in the heart of the incomprehensible mystery
than the wind that sweeps us away like death
the stars off the stairs in one and the same breath that blew them there
to ensure our continuity is always within reach of attaining
like a river that at all times and everywhere is in touch with itself.
Like a waterclock. Or a goldfish in the deserts of an hourglass
swimming through mirages on the moon that launches
our lifeboats and coffins alike on the same undifferentiated ocean of insight
that washed us ashore in the first place like islands in the night
that have more in common with the stars that at first glance
we might think we do in the vastness of the spirit’s lost and found.
But of this I am bold enough to remain uncertain of my bearings indefinitely.