Monday, March 11, 2013



for Pat, Jeremy, Sarah and Sean
to the memory of their mother, Linda Robertson

Maybe if we all started out relating to each others’ deaths
we’d do a lot better loving one another while we’re alive.
Even in the heart of the swallow, the great finality
of our blood dropping the heavy red curtains on the play
stepping out of them from a womb like the sea
contained in a medicine bag of water with nine holes in it always
leaking out of itself like a body learning to walk on land,
loosely mastering one medium after another, water for land,
land for air, air for space until we get to the gateway
of the clear light of the void where the masters unlearn
their wisdom to go skinny-dipping in their eyes again
forgetting everything about what it was they were supposed to know
as they revel in being more buoyant than innocence or bliss.
Before we step back behind the curtains to listen for an encore.

This is the floating world where the waterclocks
run like wavelengths, serpents, Pleiosaurs, Loch Ness monsters,
as if someone were stitching the seam of a lake up
like a sail they intend to raise like a moonrise
on the masts of the tree line anchored in earth like a fleet in port.
And the waterlilies rooted like the rigging
of our lifelines, umbilical and spinal cords
to our starmud, are what the hands of a clock do
in their off time, or when they withdraw their shadows at noon
and time stops as if its petals had returned
to the bud again like a snake with its tail in its mouth.

Dark abundance fulfilling the potential of its bright vacancy
over and over again like a stranger walking down
a long road alone, all her thoughts and feelings,
shadows of the moon, stars breaking unspeakably beautiful
through the crowns of the trees intimately whispering
to one another, Who is she? Who is she?
As her imagination welds the wounded shards
of the constellations, gathers up every splinter of a star
she’s washed out of her eyes in tears, or plucked
like a thorn from her foot that pierced her
like the path she was on at the time like a firewalk
and makes of all that light, not a broken starmap,
but a mirror she can see her face in like a housewell
scanning the sky for fireflies like the first signs of her arrival.

Who among the evergreens has ever been
so intimate with death they know enough to fear it?
Hasn’t life been carrying us forth as long as death
has been eloping with the bride? The empty bucket
of the new moon tangled in morning glory
is lowered like a coffin into the dark waters of life
and winched up by the wheel of birth and death
comes up like the lost coin we retrieved from the river
like the one they place between our teeth when we die
full and bright as the harvest moon everytime
we take a bath in our own graves without holding our breath
like pearl divers seeking the white and black eyes of the moon
in the depths of their souls as we rise and fall
like Orphic skulls, shipwrecks and eclipses
bobbing and sinking on our own thought-waves,
the mountains we climb as high as the valleys we plunge into
are deep and inexplicable. Everyone, even a Buddha,

is a sophomore of life on earth. Foolishly wise, wisely foolish,
but look how dangerous it is to send our children to school
to learn about death as if it were something
you couldn’t hide from them by closing your eyes
like the happy ending of a fairytale they’ll out grow
believing in like garden snakes shedding their skin
as if you lied to them without meaning to because
death isn’t anything you can live your way through
without accepting the dark wisdom of the enlightened eclipse
even at noon that folds the tents of the flowers up
and sends them back to their beginnings
like the unopened loveletters of the pine cones
that bloom in fire, and the night lilies that open
the eyes of the water to the mysteries and metaphors
they hold in common with the root fires of the stars.

Our seeing is a living turmoil of mud and water
not a glass shard we’re looking through darkly
to protect our vision from the sun in eclipse
as if you had to wait till you got to heaven to clean your lens
or wipe the dirt and crumbs of a bad dream out of your eyes.

Whenever we occasionally come to peace with ourselves
like a sea of awareness on good terms
with its own mental weather, kingfishers in the sunlight,
skimming the fire-gilded waves, or no one
in the wheelhouse of the zodiac in a great, Pacific storm,

everything is reflected clearly in the stars and the clouds
that pass overhead like the prayer beads of the Canada geese
returning like empty urns in the spring to gather up
the dead again when the leaves begin to fly in the fall
and take them somewhere eternal where they get
to shine a light on it all like a new medium
they’re learning to work with to express themselves
as sentience always will like a hidden secret
that wanted to be known by whispering whole galaxies
in the black holes of our ears listening like seashells
on the far shores of the islands of light we’re washed up on
like a message in a bottle we sent to ourselves in a past life
like the Cutty Sark, and arks of doves and crows under full sail
we sent out looking for land, knowing full well, one

would be delayed by what it found as its feathers changed
from white to black, and the other would be sent back
like a sign of peace that rinsed the bloodstain of the red sky
in the morning like a false dawn out of the white flags of surrender
that blow like curtains of snowbunting and white star
from the open windows of spring gaping in incredulity
at what time it is with so many hands of the wildflowers
pointing at all hours of the clock, day and night, as if there were
time enough for everything when the mindstream
weathers the flashflood of its own tears and comes to rest
like the Burgess Shale at the top of a mountain far to the west.

Sophocles once said never to have been born is best
as if death were the solution to the tragic horror of a painful dilemma.
When has life ever not been just as open behind us
as it is up ahead? But surely his one-eyed advice is the crutch
and flying buttress lambda leans on and not to die
like the Conservation of Data Principle in a black hole doesn’t
is the better of two worlds when less is more and more is less
and death doesn’t spread the lungs of the hourglass out
like the wingspan of a blood eagle or the waters of the Red Sea
closing up after us like wounded curtains healing after the play.

More like immortal bees returning to their hives at night
to churn honey out of the eyes that looked upon them in the light
and tasted the sweetness of life at work in the starfields
in the belt of Orion, in the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades,
in the Mons Veneris of the Beehive star cluster between
Regulus in Leo and Castor and Pollux in Gemini
gleaming like first magnitude insights into why
we die to live and live to die like fireflies and stars
rising like new constellations over the event horizons
of our eyes that never fail like waterlilies to take us by surprise.


No comments: