I let go your hands knowing you are a quicksand of love. In another lifetime perhaps, where land steams with moisture and grasses sway all the way to horizon; now I have my eyes fixed on the path ahead, an unwavering light pointing the direction.
Years ago I wore a blouse embroidered with dreams that wove both of us in its warp and weft. Now with seams frayed and the design run dowdy, I have folded it away in an old box among camphor balls.
Night after night the sky is emptied of stars and moon, like a band of silk robe without shimmer or wrinkle. On such a night I realise I am emptied of love, overcome with the sickness of stumbling out of bed to scoop moonbeams in my palms.
Hollowing the walls that make my home, I build a scaffold to hold an empty space. Bricks crumble when intimacy pours through the hole like loosened cement. It’s time to leave the building that exists only in my heart and nowhere else.
November Poem A Day: Write a letting go poem
How inconstant are compounded things!
Their nature: to arise & pass away.
They disband as they are arising.
Their total stilling is bliss.
~ Parinibbana Sutta
The wind tossed the leaves, pale undersides trembled like the breast of a pigeon. The robe he had unfurled on the cool grass breathed gently as the Blessed One lay quiet under the arching sal tree.
River Hiranyavati flowed silently, not a rustle rising as she crested rocks and stones. He sat at the foot of the Tathagata, watching the skin above the lips moisten with the heat of May morning.
It was well past the time he engaged to sew robes for monks. He craved to go back to the routine of the day – to stir the pot of rice gruel, remove sharp pebbles from the pathway. Meanwhile life hung like cloth on a peg – waiting, surrendering to the breeze.
He blinked at the sudden clarity of light in the air around. His hands that were flicking away flies with a palm fan, froze. The ochre leaves fell gently like gold coins on the Buddha. He imagined that the earth held its breath.
He carried the words of the Great One as one carries a jar of ghee, mindfully. Deep as an old well, dry and empty, he gathered thirstily the rain that fell from the iridescent sky.
Traveller, there’s no road,
the road is your travelling.
~ Antonio Machado
Life is a large poem, I live out day by day,
words strung as prayer beads. The warm seeds
from the ancient tree in the Himalayas press
my nerves, blood vessels; take secrets to my heart
like the underground river that carries in its cells
knowledge of the valleys and hills it does not get to see.
I kneel on my grass mat, roll a word in my finger,
let it fall between silence to search for my voice.
I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
~ Mary Oliver
She rides on a cycle like the wind, legs astride, skirt ballooning like wings. Kitchen smoke folds into her skin, mixes with slivers of lemon she dips into the jar of water. The yard carries her smell in the braids of mint runners that spread around her feet.
She picks the guava, ripe and soft in her hands, richly fragrant on the sleeves of her blouse that she has fashioned with gathers of laces that flit like dream in my sleep after she disengages her fingers from mine and withdraws into the dark night.
Her face closes like a moonless sky, a veil of cloud graying her sad eyes as they rest on me, her thoughts like the currents of a river spiral in eddies of anxiety. Rubies on her ears pulsate like the throat of songster when she gathers me and breathes a deep sigh.
After all these years I can smell her out in the bazaar, jasmine coiled on her dark tresses, plaited into a band of memory that weighs and tugs my heart. She looks at me tenderly across the milling crowd; she is wearing silk, bolts of colors spread like arcs of happiness.
Fire breaks inside the forest, twigs crackle, insects singe and fall in balls of supplication.
Wisps of smoke rise from scorched branches, emptiness gives shape to space as silence to love.
I sink down, rake the soil, tug wasteful thoughts that run like weed; I ease knots of runners that hold my heart in pain.
With the leaves down, I can see deep into the woods, welcome the blue sky to write a poem on the cleared earth.
November Poem A Day: Poem written in response to the line “with the leaves down, I can see deep into the woods” from Dave Bonta’s Morning Porch entry.
the universal hanging-together of things,
their embeddedness in a universal matrix
I fly light for the first time in many months,
flow like the fragrance from the incense stick
that does not decide the path to take.
The shriveled seed absorbs moisture from the soil,
listens to the story written in its core that says
exact texture and taste of the fruit it would bear.
I place my ear close to the earth, hear pulsation
of my life in the fault lines, my heart beat registers
pangs of birth and templates the process of creation.
November Poem A Day
The seeds of the flower hold like a secret the light, the mercurial brightness in its layers of sepals, stashed away from the night moth’s probe. Your eyes are the color of milk, layers of cream trembling before spilling from the bowl. When we wandered the slopes of the hill, the rubber trees spilled moon from slits that you touched for their stickiness. I step out in the dark night, touch the moon in the flower, in the milk of your eyes. When the last drop of radiance is drained from there, darkness spells every word and phrase, sentence runs on without pause, bearing no meaning.
November Poem A Day: Written in response to the image prompt ‘Blossom in Moonlight’