The Burning Awareness

Early one morning, I rose from the bed,
Descended stone steps, as landscape still slept—
Fog gathering before Sun opened its eye,
Burning awareness in the hour of sunrise.
 
I waited without awareness of waiting
For the light to awake,
Unblinking, not thinking of silence that reigned.
Suddenly a rooster sounded his call,
Crowed in very moment the Sun broke above,
Through the veil of a tree—
Making me aware of the silence around….
Quiet surrounding with sudden sound in relief,
The silent complete compass
Of Spirit and Earth
Gathered together in an instant of birth.
 
Open to everything in this moment of grace,
No reference to anything—
Judgment suspended, like fog in the air,
Only awareness receptive and pure,
Spreading outward, rising and falling….
Watching awareness aware of itself.

Geese in Flight

I was seduced long ago
By the wounds in his hands and feet,
Was told the blood that flowed
Would wash away the stench of sin,
Mistook the rites of prayer that promised
Holiness would always come—
Spread against the meager eye
Before it went away, scattered
In the darkness as ashes in the wind.
 
I put wings on images of angels,
Closed my eyes and was taught to fold hands
While praying to a God who stood apart,
Silently listening for wrongs….
I learned beauty was something
Perfect and static, to be admired but never touched….
Confused surface shapes for what is real,
Admired velocity instead of inner light.

Now I see the geese in flight toward sun,
Weaving in the brightest blue,
Wings unfurled, unfolding the purposes of God
Using invisible currents of wind to find their bearings,
Scattering feathers as they plead for mercy
And I cry without knowing why.

Beauty kills me…. blasting open closed heart.
I stand under the oak as it spreads its arms;
Lie down in tall, green grass before the mowing comes;
Watch gentle clouds, their ephemeral kisses
Thrown against blue windows of the sky….
And I cannot understand why
 I love so blindly—
Move so slowly to close the distance
Between the skin and that which remains
Veiled by the shimmering light,
Forever hidden and unseen.

The Beached Red Canoe

The red canoe rests on its side
Down below in the yard, close to the lake,
Now idle, under the shade of the trees,
Spilling out memories of times
When we rowed through thick shadows
Across water in afternoon heat.
 
I am so tired of paddling alone.
Tired of repetitive motions going in circles,
Away from the shore, back in an hour….
Tired of singing sad, lonely songs,
Remembering your voice….
Now that you’ve gone, all over again.
 
Come winter, I will walk across the lake
Alone on thick ice, the silent canoe
Covered in snow—  crystal flakes falling,
Blowing as memories of you melt on my check,
White as cold sheets on the bed.
Again and again, back in fetal position,
Life-stream frozen, current underground.
 
But now it’s late June, raining outside,
Yet still the lawn seems brown….
Not sure if it will ever be green.
Maybe it was never meant to be.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to let go,
Take out the canoe on the lake, but still
So tired of paddling alone.

A Pilot Finally Found

Dedicated to Lt. Richard S. Ryrholm, Jr.
 
After close of World War II,
Although it took sixty-seven years,
Today they laid his remains to rest:
Charred and fractured bones,
Rusted pocket-knife,
Wristwatch with missing hands,
Gold ring and tarnished set of pilot wings.
 
Long wait of family has finally ended.
Although survivors never knew him,
Now they know his resting place.
They wept, without fully knowing why.
May he rest in peace….

The Weeping Willow

 This is the place, my place….
So just for a minute, leave me alone.
Let me stand here and look around,
Appreciate and honor the past
Flowing like a stream,
Like a highway that brings,
Like a high tide that washes up on dry shore,
Leaves me startled, exhausted, needing to pause,
Just for awhile, to see where I am.
 
Here, the branches of the weeping willow
Sway in blowing wind….
Bend down to sweep the grass of shadows,
Kiss the Earth but leave no footprints—
A blessing of silence in mid-afternoon.
If I were to take a photograph,
I could not capture this holy effect:
Stillness and motion under shade of the willow,
Brushing tendrils of hair on the ground.
 
Please God, let the willowy green leaves
Brush against my face and wipe all tears away,
Fall as I weep at discovery of this place,
My place, here, alone in this time that is mine…
Under this willow, surrounded by peace and grace.
 
Be for me the lake in the background.
Be for me the willow tree, bending elegantly,
Swaying in motion but deeply rooted.
Be for me the ground underneath.
Be for me the sky and the clouds and the rain
Falling as tears on my face.
 

Yellow Sky Reflects the Burning Heart

 Today, I am an orphan again.
Without father.  Without mother.
Without children…. the inheritance gone….
Dust descending slowly into heart,
Choking breath with wreck and wrong,
Yellow sky ablaze in lamentation as
Delicate stars black out at night, abandon sky,
Glittering memory slowly fades in
Cries that frame a silent moon.
 
Bitter it is to view the scene
Without success, the garden
Rooted up by hungry swine.
Violence stretched upon the face,
Meadows, mountains, oceans laced
With falling waste, whipped
By blowing winds and stinging sand.
 
Weep for the loss, the awful devastation
Crossing across the continent….
So much lost or burned away.
Where do we find the hope to
Sustain the heart, the balm
To staunch the bleeding wound?
Who will be found to cleanse the smoke,
As forests and fields burn from shore to shore?

Seeking Something More….

 Dedicated to Ellen
 
How far will I have to go
To find a country where people
Know nothing of the sea?
Where they are so far removed from
Deeper malevolent tides of men
They know nothing of storms of war,
Do not cry tears laden with salt….
 
Where will I find men and women
Who sit at table and feel grateful,
Pass food to those who hunger
Without any need to be asked?
Is it possible to find such a land
Where people bravely bless each other?
Where life ebbs away only
Very gently when one is full of years?
Where strangers greet each other
Without fear of harm; where all are secure?
Where promises are made and kept?
 
I want to settle into meadows of
Quiet days, where friends are
Loyal and true, where the
Marriage of souls comes naturally,
Without need to register with clerks….
Where people are vulnerable
To their own hearts and
Cry when they say goodbye.
 
I seek a place where
Water is unpolluted by waste;
Where rivers run free and
Air is pure and fragrance of flowers
Flows upon a summer breeze and
Wild animals are friends at peace;
Where walls that divide neighbors
Fall down, crumble from lack of need.

I want a time where the
Passage of hours is not
Measured by ticking of clocks and
People are not pursued by
Monsters or gods with hate,
But ready and willing to bless,
Heal with balm the deepest of wounds….
Where people notice the buried needs
Without expectation of words to be said,
Where they see the presence of silent grief,
The fear when one is lost….
Where no one is outcast or poor,
Where prayers are answered
And the ancient prophecies told long ago….
All that has been promised comes true.