Merwin said on the last day of the world
he would plant a tree
Not for the fruit bearer
but for the one that stands
in the earth for the first time
Innocence. Wonder. Remembrance.
That the first and ever ancient spirits are ants and spiders
And the land is God
So when I step out into night I can feel their quiet work
Stare and crouch
with the fervor of one who has unearthed a city lost
to the wrong kind of unknowing
Glance and brood
over either shoulder, wary of thieves
But it’s just myself and the many legged gods
whose caps like the crowns of teeth
suggest roots unseen, dark and vulnerable
whose mortality I know if I too bare my outstretched limbs
That faith in life is moved by
a delicate and dreadful energy that is Love
How can I not feel this
I want the hawk to eat and
I want the dove to thrive
The impossibility breaks my heart wide open
in agony and ecstasy
Isn’t it interesting how other animals don’t seem to feel sorry for themselves?
The loss of a child
Bitter cold, brutal heat
They simply bow their heads and eat when it’s offered
And how we look so hard within domes and people, that which is offered so baldly in the wild
People don’t really climb Everest for the view
God doesn’t want me loved safely behind locked doors
I think he wants us like Szpilman
That gorgeous Jewish pianist who scarcely survived the Warsaw Ghetto in the 1940’s
A desperate Lover of family, strangers
Bewildered with pitched eyebrows
Lame legs, wandering still
So that when we sit at our pianos at last
His drama swells in and out our bodies
like a lighthouse sweeping dark waters for crouching forms,
everyone aching to see and be seen
Nature’s ceaseless muscle
From these small hours
These dying bodies
Because the Truth is
Fires that start in space never stop spreading
Sunlight is touchable on a horse’s hip
A soft hand always heavies the eye
And we breathe through our hearts
Knowing the notes of a song we’ve never heard before
If I live to be a hundred,
I will be just as beautiful as I am now.
My sun heart will still rise before I do.
My moon mind will still gawk about the midnight of my bed quarters.
My star-fire blood will still warm the bow of infinity that is my flesh.
And my earth belly will still roar into the pregnant silence of all our wanting.
-photo credit, my beautiful sister, Stephanie Donovan-
I saw this man wearing a sign today on 42nd street and he reminded me of you
how you would have Loved him
and all the people who never looked up
Maybe the guy behind him is texting his wife
can’t wait for Colorado
Maybe the fella to the right is meeting an old friend from California
Maybe the woman in the red blazer got off work early to spend time with her daughter
Then I thought–
what of all the people we encounter every day
how no one ever looks up anymore
just brushes of hand and commerce
For some strange reason it reminded me of that passage in the bible
that one where Jesus gets his feet washed
Made me want to read one where he washes a man’s face
I bet he did that
I bet he did that a lot
So I stopped and took this man’s picture for you
because we should remember how precious we are, right
And even if what we do matters to no one else but the ones we Love
Shouldn’t they be the ones moved by us most?
Leap from your structures
There are animals down there clinging to rock canvas as old as God
Leave the dishes
The clothes on the floor
The wine in the bottle
Your nocturnal predator needs her beauty sleep too
Open all the windows
Do you see it now? I do
There’s a sun ball on your chest reflecting itself
Mary asked good questions. The kind only a woman thinks.
Do I see you with my soul or with my spirit?
He smiled. The deep kind that starts in the eye.
Neither. It’s your mind, Miriam, the space between the two.
She chewed on that awhile, holding the weight of her hair at the top of her head.
I ate you with my mind, she said, and now you’re inside of me.
Yes, a woman’s magic.
To suckle the world and then devour it like Kali.
To suffer the stone of truth like Cassandra.
To choose blood over honey like Eve.
To cut strange fruit like Billie Holiday at Cafe Society in Greenwich Village.
To cry out your gratuitous pleasure.
To harvest your ancient, rounded, beauty.
To brave your raw death.
To become Corinthian Love.
He who has the mind to remember,
Let him Remember.
Just a little Love tonight from the Oregon coast and my first Lover, William Wordsworth. As a little girl, I remember stealing from my mother’s book shelf, stacks of classic romantics.
But William was the first theft.
He and I conceived my passion for books. Real books. From the ornamented bindings, the textured ink, the earthy musk of page on page, and to the endless gift giving of their content.
This poem was truly my first kiss.
Happy Tuesday, my friends.
Fat birds in the lawn to greet me
just before twilight when the blades are cool and the earth exhales in shadow
Solo piano swelling in the cab
in my chest
I crack the window
A break in the dam
for notes to spill
into infinite space
unnoticed by gravity
I like to imagine treading there in that dark matter
waiting with a child’s grin
as the melody draws near and advances deeper still
above my tiny skull
resting like the eye of a needle upon black tapestry
I look down again
wonder at the beautiful stranger who bled this song
at the miracle of our world
water to drink
rocks to gather like bread crumbs home
cracks in the concrete
for plants to begin again
… Ah, poems amount to so little when you write them too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines. For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough) — they are experiences. For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you have long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn’t pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else — ); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet, restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along high overhead and went flying with all the stars, — and it is still not enough to be able to think of all that. You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and the scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves — only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.
By Rainer Maria Rilke.
Poetry making always comes with this song for me: