Nanao Sakaki, Japanese poet, who switched
from grass sandals to hiking boots, depending on
which island needed walking, once said, about writing
poems: if you can’t remember, it doesn’t belong.
Lao Tsu, old Taoist sage, counsels; “With nothing
to do, everything is done.” And William Stafford,
just a poet from here, puts it like this:
when you’re trying hard to get something done,
what distracts you is who you really are.
Litany—a series of petitions or prayers,
recited and responded to
This morning’s trailside litany
begins with a silver-breasted jay,
quiet California lilac, pearly everlasting
and farewell to spring;
gold sticky-monkey, golden poppy,
browning grasses, checker bloom and
paint brush; hummingbird sage, wild rose
hidden in shade; buckeye blossoms,
hillside scrub, poison oak and soap plant.
From high on the ridge, sun over fog
over the valley to the east, a voice
overhead: a hawk, circles
and arches its wings,
And the world and all of it opens
a canopy warm and dark and glimmering
invitations to travel more deeply in.
My eyes can’t clear the date on the watch,
but the sky is spotless and still with me, nothing
stirring but air of itself, no wind, no breeze, save
breathing multitudes, millions, like weeds
and grasses and millions more—even rocks
are drunk with it, crumble with it, dust rise
with it, taking us in to its body whole
with us all, all the way and more.
Just after dawn, showers
enough to wet the streets,
we drop everything but
what’s right here now,
the one thing of ourselves
we can ever truly give.
At this time in life…
more ideas, more formula, more choreograph,
even that which smacks of meaning, seem now,
no matter, removed. And me, distant, unengaged,
off to the side watching, waiting
for some beginning, for metaphor to fail
in the face of real words, but utterly uncertain
who it is that’s supposed to speak, and, if it’s me,
where to find the language and who to speak to—or,
if me, is the move to listen more,
to listen to the world of language speaks
of worlds that speak to those who learn
the language of listening
to repeat in heart
We go where we go
by virtue of where our-going
goes—flow is everything
Outside the window, long stems
ride spring winds, dance and delight
in petals, deep pink.
Too undisciplined to learn their name,
I idle and wonder, what sentences
they’d say to name themselves.
line the rail of the deck,
bent arms, bent legs
and spring-necked heads
tremble the breeze
with songs of tin.
The narrator, an intelligent, careful film, asks:
once we’ve noticed the reservoir of momentum
that is our deepest living, what do we do with the rest ?
Everything we can say of it, anything we say,
none of this is it—saying—that
Solitude is understanding the self
within unlimited embracing life, where
birth, joy, suffering and death continue to occur.