Sure, you’re asking where we come from—
At the end we’ll go down
That’s the spirit
here’s the new truth
just stir it around
take some yourself
won’t kill you
I tell you why I ask, and ask again,
asking till I really know
—for I don’t, in truth
Hold on as I try to explain
I want to be like a summit
or a valley whose purifying streams elbow the riverbanks — to
be as the maple spreads its branches to gather the soft falling snow
be as the forsythia bends to the wind
My intent is on what’s to come and not what has flooded us with tears—
so I can withdraw the hand that reaches to snap off the ends of stammered confession,
out of the past, barreling into the will
Because none will change for the good reasons that I can give
But the adversaries I placate today
may thrive into the view they like to hold of themselves
Do you understand now?
Let me try another tack
I don’t ask why it took a thousand years for those unnoticed to announce injury
My own story is in my chest
curled under my hands
like all your stories will be someday
What is mastery?
It pads in quietly, unwrapping the judgments around sin
to water the ground
on which one has unspread her pallet among the others in the dark
I hope you’re with me now
Time, the least forgiving of the dimensions, itself will justify us
though in the interim
the world may end
Above a wind-pummeled plain a mountain rallies the clouds, and halfway
up the mountain is a tiny grove of junipers, and in the grove the sun casts
a scrutiny under which all stand equal.
This morning, I sang the fogs that ascended the mountain to the storehouses
of Heaven and surged in revelation. I saw out the eyes and took my sense
from the nostrils of every creature that stirs.
Descending the mountain with gathering regret, I was embraced by a
village where the mill tower is master and a quarry sinks men’s toil,
where the dwellers line the hulks of vacated tanks with tight-woven
rugs and lay out gems from the crags that guard the ridges.
Humility came to me only as I lifted a rock from the forest floor, and
on a plaque underneath the rock were letters I did not recognize in a
language that was never spoken; but when they started to blaze,
I read their call to end the consensus of devastation.
Then I brought the words of forbearance to the edge of the sea and
spoke it to ships that tow vast bulkheads and fearsome canisters.
Though wisdom will bring me unhappiness, I’ll tolerate the ecstasy of viewing
worlds into which I cannot step.
Cry out with me to the stars, and listen to them echo your exultation, glory,
splendor, transcendence, ascent, audacity for the next ten thousand years.
A choir of the ages is rehearsing for an epiphany, inhaling the sweet
whistled air of the mountain ranges and trilling upon their breath
the only hope granted by this epoch to humanity.
This poem was published in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of Soul-Lit.
August 22, 2020