take into the air
my quiet breath…
take into the air
my quiet breath…
If one day you become sick of words, as happens to us all, and you grow tired of hearing them, of saying them; if whichever you choose seems worn out, dull, disabled; if you feel nauseated when you hear ‘horrible’ or ‘divine’ for some everyday occurrence – you’ll not be cured, obviously, by alphabet soup.
You must do the following: cook a plate of al dente spaghetti dressed with the simplest seasoning – garlic, oil and chili. Over the pasta toss in this mixture, grate a layer of Parmesan cheese. To the right of the deep plate full of the spaghetti thus prepared, place an open book. To the left, place an open book. In front of it a full glass of red wine. Any other company is not recommended. Turn the pages of each book at random, but they must both be poetry. Only good poets cure us of an overindulgence in words. Only simple essential food cures us of gluttony.”
At night I open the window and ask
the moon to come and press its
face against mine.
Breathe into me.
~ Jalaluddin Rumi, excerpt from “Some Kiss We Want” in by Coleman Barks
Where is the thought that breathes?
Where is the breath that lifts us like the bird
that flies without thinking flight?
~ J’Lyn Chapman, from “A Poetics of Absolute Time and Space”
They come, lumbering, from the many ponds. They dare the dangers of path, dogs, the highway, the accumulating heat that their bodies cannot regulate, or the equally stunning, always possible cold. Take one, then. She has reached the edge of the road, now she slogs up the impossible hill. When she slides back she rests for a while, then trundles forward again. Emerging wet from the glittering caves of the pond, she travels in a coat of glass and dust. Where the sand clings thickly the mosquitoes, that hover about her like a gray veil, are frustrated. Not about her eyes, though, for as she blinks the sand falls; so at her tough, old face-skin those winged needles hang until their bodies fill, like tiny vials, with her bright blood. Each of the turtles is a female, and gravid, and is looking for a place to dig her nest. […]
I saw the tracks immediately— they swirled back and forth across the shuffled sand of the path. They seemed the design of indecision, but I am not sure. In three places a little digging had taken place. A false nest? A foot giving a swipe or two of practice motion? A false visual clue for the predator to come? I leashed my two dogs and looked searchingly until I saw her, at one side of the path, motionless and sand-spattered. Already she was in the nest— or, more likely, leaving it. For she will dig through the sand until she all but vanishes— sometimes until there is nothing visible but the top of her head. Then, when the nesting is done, she thrusts the front part of her body upward so that she is positioned almost vertically, like a big pie pan on edge. Beneath her, as she heaves upward, the sand falls into the cavity of the nest, upon the heaped, round eggs. She sees me, and does not move. The eyes, though they throw small light, are deeply alive and watchful. If she had to die in this hour and for this enterprise, she would, without hesitation. She would slide from life into death, still with that pin of light in each uncordial eye, intense and as loyal to the pumping of breath as anything in this world.
~ Mary Oliver, from “Sister Turtle” in Upstream: Selected Essays (2016)
It’s late afternoon Thursday. We’re walking up 47th street dodging the lingering jewelers, puffing on their Marlboros, blowing smoke rings, their arms out with pamphlets: “We buy Gold Sir, top price.” If I had gold, I wouldn’t be traipsing up 47th street rushing to catch a commuter train. Step back.
My colleague is in front. I’m trailing. He’s a New Yorker to the core, from birth, wily and confident. And you, you Friend, are country, and you can’t take Country out of the Boy.
I catch him and finish sharing a moment:
“I just can’t let it go. I’ve been carrying this with me for two days.”
He pauses: “Are you nuts? Don’t give it another thought. This is New York. Anything could have happened.”
He veers right.
“You’re right. See you tomorrow.” I push on to Grand Central.
Anything could have happened.
It was Tuesday morning, early.
I exit Grand Central. It was brisk, and dark. I wait for the light to turn, and I cross Madison. There’s plenty of time before my morning meeting, no need to push it. Music is streaming in. I’m lip synching James Taylor’s Country Road : “But I could feel it Lord, on a Country Road, Walk on Down…But you know I could feel it child, yeah – Walking on a country road, I guess I know where my feet want me to go.”
I hit repeat, and James sweeps me away again. Lightly Child, Lightly. And on this morning, I’m right there in that sweet groove with Ahab, “he never thinks, he just feels, feels, feels.” And on this morning, here I am, a tall sunflower leaning into the Sun. Sweet Jesus, why can’t I find this place more often.
I pass into a dim section of the street.
He appears directly in front of me from Nowhere.
Unshaven. 5’9″. Tattered corduroys, dark windbreaker. And in my space. I step back, and lift my hand up signaling back, my torso trembling. I re-grip my case. I pull the ear buds out. And Brace.
He points to his ears and emits a muffled: “I’m deaf. I need help.” [Read more…]
the trees are standing all sticks and bones.
Without their leaves, how lovely they are,
spreading their arms like dancers.
They know it is time to be still.
I heard a bird congratulating itself
all day for being a jay.
Nobody cared. But it was glad
all over again, and said so, again
Soon. Soon. Soon. Soon. When is Soon? What a terrible word: Soon. Soon can mean in one second, Soon can mean in one year. Soon is a terrible word. This Soon compresses the future, shrinks it, offers no certainty, no certainty whatever, it stands for absolute uncertainty. Soon is nothing and Soon is a lot. Soon is everything. Soon is death.…
What I see in dreams
makes me breathe
like golden trout
floating just beneath
the skin of water