OBLITERATIONS OF BEAUTY AND WE WEEP
Obliterations of beauty and we weep
for what cannot long abide in us
because we, not the rose, are the ones
who are passing so irrevocably away
into an abyss that doesn’t
take the measure of anything.
The lake knows the time
by the wingspan of its waterbirds.
I note the location of the stars
in the rotation of the Big Dipper.
And there are crickets
that will yield the time as well.
Time, too, like human solitude
is embodied in the things of this world.
Time perishes when we do,
is born with us, matures,
and embraces our ends as its own nature.
Time sets its pace to the passage of us.
We are the muse, the motivator, the demi-urge
of its passion for shedding
the leaves and flowers and moon like skin.
And we’re the ones who grow infinite
at the speed of light so that everything stops
immeasurably from there on everafter.
All things returning to the one, and the one,
returning to transcendence. Which is why
I come here this late at night when the stars
are as far from people as they can be
and yet they’re still as intimate to me
as my eyes are. A mutually creative continuum.
The star makes the eye I need to see it by.
I am the fragrance of the wildflowers
and the adamantine insights of the rocks.
The singing master of the nightbirds.
The oracle in the leprous skull of the raccoon.
And my heart is one long, continuous moonrise
when I think of how the dead still animate me.
How they cling to my heart like ants to a peony
to let me know when it’s time to bloom.
The dead trees house the mosquitoes and the herons.
The fallen pine cones, the seed koans of Zen masters
under their brittle eyelids waiting for the fire
to crack them deciduously open into evergreens.
I don’t lament the passivity of the dead in my life
because I put them to good use in their capacity
as enlightened mentors who urge me
to live splendidly whatever I encounter in the world
for all our sakes. I can be the blossom and the fruit
on the dead branch, as easily as a red-winged blackbird
sings from the green and leafless alike.
Not a bush wolf raises its voice up to the moon
that I don’t feel its distant longing in my own throat
like a sacred syllable half way to blossoming among the dead
who always hear it like an auspicious beginning
to the summons of their leave-taking in the fall,
to the deeper greeting in the meaning of farewell.