after Jane Hirshfield…
From “The Tongue Says Loneliness”
As this life is not a gate, but the horse plunging through it.
Yes Jane, “the tongue says”
but “does not feel” what is said,
“cannot feel” longing, greed, joy,
cannot but form the sound
as sign that points. But there is
the speaking, is there not,
that rising foundation of the felt
that forms the bell
that sounds what’s heard
by who we are—this life then,
is it not gate
as horse plunging through…?
John Muir Wilderness 8/1
In the evening of the last day in the mountains, the chill
settles early on the water’s surface, the winds continue,
sun descends, shadows rise.
Light stays the slivered rocks along the ridge, clouds
perimeter, trail and streak, and we sit on a stump,
hours before the first of the stars, staring.
In the face of our own impatience, the given lesson
of no expectations, no demands, the lesson of matter-of-fact
acceptance simply manifests,
so true to itself
as to eclipse all need
Is it distraction then
when three yellow-petalled flowers
grab attention, when irritations release
in the flow and fold of incense smoke,
in calligraphied swirls of praise,
and following eyes find final rest
in faces of wood-fingered Buddhas,
who sign to all who pass that all
is OK—is this distraction then,
or something else at play ?
When shadows begin to lengthen,
we are reminded of earlier warmths
summarily rejected, now blithely refusing
Woodchuck Lake—JM Wilderness
Night does not hurry this time of year,
so days linger through the hours
long past the time the first stars arrive,
as if, for only a while,
to taste of this part of the planet’s life.
It’s a glad time, bare of pretence,
where every patience is requited,
where all promises ever dreamed are delivered
and the grip of every secret feels comfort enough
to let go.
The nature of freedom…how it is, or might be…
to reside, as it were, at the edge
of a majority of possibilities,
all as yet untried…
Life is never less than,
but always fully accommodates
the fullest capacity of every circumstance,
ever-filling the furthest limits,
calling out from there…
just before falling into sleep,
of the gentle arc of peace
of tidal shifts, and the rise
--To enjoy life’s immensity,
you do not need many things.
From Jane Hirshfields’s poem,
“When Your Life Looks Back”
When your life looks back—
as it will, at itself, at you—what will it say?
“This,” your life had said, its only pronoun.
“Here,” your life had said, its only house.
“Let,” your life had said, its only order.
“Mortal,” your life will say,
as if tasting something delicious, as if in envy.
Your immortal life will say this, as it is leaving.