Rituals

From one palm to another.

What grows here is an open hand. It catches shade from remaining trees like falling rain. Cup the view, wrap a fragile forever in time, hold. An old ritual: pull back the sun. It can’t be helped, the impulse to pry a closed fist into an open palm, for heat or to signal an invitation. Like, Stay.

***

Inspired by the sculptures of Lorenzo Quinn. And everything else.

Valley

Between us.

Between being and becoming, a valley holds the wasted lives of a time when we thought we could not know what we were except by testing hot fire against some idea of what it felt to be a god, before the end of the world, and we are in this valley now, still with this longing, and what can it be but nostalgia for the days when it was possible to imagine anything but this relentless fragility with its incessant reminders, that there is no becoming beyond this? Instead of a world, see this baby, head bandaged from the last strike, another attempt by a would-be god of our own making, to make some urgent point, but there is no scorecard without a world to rule, only this child looking up, eyes glazed and the dead all around.

Safe Passage

For shelter in the event of this now.

How do you enter?

What, you mean this? It can help to know that you are already here.

Parents have been sending the children to school with special stickers: names, telephone, blood type––in case, in the event––unmentionable, but. Some schools made these stickers mandatory. They have been practicing. In case of fire, one drill; bomb, another. The idea is not to panic.

How?

It can help to know that–– 

Not to say too much. We want them to feel normal, say the mothers.

What now?

We pray, says one mother. We pray a lot, she says, for peace.

But how can––

Look. We are already here.

But––

We hold the babies, hold the prayers. We hold on, and the windows are shaking.

Shhh, we say, shh.  What else?

***

For the mothers and the babies, the brothers, fathers, the missing, and those holding in solidarity and love.

Sources referenced: Foreign Policy and Today.

Life and Limb

Seeding the resistance.

With blasts on the horizon again, I want to know the woman who grew a forest around her to show the world its trees, offering a resistance. These ones are harder to kill, she said. She called them sacred and some jeered. 

We don’t know, she explained, what we destroy.

What’s in them, anyway? someone asked.

Time, she answered. Time.

***

Inspired by the work of Dr. Diana Beresford-Kroeger, as discussed in this article.

Taking Heart

Fortitude is often misunderstood.

Only with courage can a body refuse any code designed to justify denial of dinner on pretension of purity. To refuse to embark on a scavenger hunt where the name of the game is seeking out the sin, to separate the convicted from the saved. To face conviction before submitting to these fiends of fracture, devils of division, forking tongues over plates of counterfeit communion, segregating what was once from what lives now and may yet be.

So great is the shock, the attendant illusions: what can a body do without a human enemy beyond the mirror?

Here’s the beginning of a story: someone meets a stranger on the road. What follows is all that matters.

Take heart.

***

Inspired by the writings of Richard Rohr.

Saving Breath

To sing, chirp, breathe.

What do you call a spring without birdsong? Carson wondered and the answer was dying. Without this symphony, sentience itself is suspect. Sing, shriek. Chirp. The people who knew before genocide called what moved here holy wind. All breath, all spirit, all soul. 

It is something, isn’t it, to live when a common descriptor of our common malaise involves the need to get away and breathe. Where is away, then? When everyone’s chest is aching, there is a silent agreement: don’t mention it. Is it true that a wolf can smell a body’s feelings, or is it only fear that scents?

If we were the gods of the people who once listened, we could turn ourselves into wolves and know. Take the flight of raptors, stretching our sights. Assume the bodies of dolphins and realize our depths. We could hear an octopus cry, taste its tears, dance with urchins, and let the lamprey finish our sentences. 

Then we might know breath again, the word meaning life. Meaning, duration of a moment; a short time; a movement of free air. Air, meaning the invisible everywhere, ether of arias, current of hymns.

Facing the Lion

No show, just a portrait of strength.

Persistence like a river until it’s bled dry, and no temper. Here is no coercion, no brash announcements, no bold statements. Most of what she is saying, facing what others call this beast, is so subtle it sounds like nothing. 

Everything is the opposite of nothing. Something is also the opposite of nothing. A robe but no armor, her hands in the mane, so near the jaw. He leans into her and she holds.

Someone wants to know who is calling the shots, but there are no calls happening here. No shots. Here is a wild creature renowned for ferocity, a feared killer, at rest. She is with him. They are breathing, still.

For All Times

Considering the movement in these moments.

You’ve been a cane-wielding cartoon old man, white beard down to your knees; a bloody tyrant, horned and masked, coming to ravage every beloved. Then, in the next scene, a healer: white linen, salves, and herbs, sometimes in the costume of a nurse of the first influenza, the first world war. The bard posed you with a scythe, the dark reaper poised, and had his lovers profess refusal to be your fool.

Then you’re a river. We build our settlements near you, travel over washing, reviving, bathing, and blessing one another by your body. Then, when the great storms come, you rinse us away––and yet, when we come to, there we are, still within and among your waters, carrying their currents in our cells. Someone suggests you are an illusion, maybe they meant elusive, but the idea adds much to our sense of the scope and reach of what we touch and then create, our tools one part memory and another part dream, and the last must be need. But for what? Is this nourishment you bring, or is it more like shelter against what we are not ready for––yet?

If you are long like a ribbon or a road, why can’t we know this about you in a moment? There’s no duration in the present, but we’ll measure rest as well as motion, our now both a beginning and an end, and in your holy geography we continue to meet, dancing in the second line with the saints, and we the once and future ancients, spinning the rhythms of your forever reception. 

Solstice

In the still of a long night.

In the dark hours, we came together by the fire, the St. Lucia’s girls crowned by candle wreaths, in honor of the flames that lit the way when she brought food to the persecuted in hiding, a trespass that got her killed by the law. Now, in the somber mist, in the places once wooded with dark trees, we wait by kindled light for the rebirth of the sun. There is a moment when it is still, and in the full dark, a pause, holding breath, and then then comes a long, cry, like mourning. That’s when you know it is here, the hour when it stops pulling away, and begins a slow return. Against our mourning, we keep watch until it comes. Look east. At first light, say the word.