Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sly Little Arrows

Since the turn of the year, I've begun a practice of listening, intently, to not only the many words from the tongues of friends and strangers, but also to the voice of the wind in the Douglas fir outside my bedroom window, to the scrape of the hydrangea on the siding, to the silence of the cat entering my room, to the ongoing ticks and sighs of my house that become so apparent in the dark. There is content everywhere, interwoven with connections, and sly little arrows that point the way.

Fran Leibowitz once said, "There is talking, and there is waiting to talk." I'm waiting longer, these days, letting the space between words, between phrases, take its own shape — space that isn't force-filled with more words. My habit of many years has been one of talk and wit and quips and laughs — it's not so easy letting go of some of that. But something is coming into focus, in those gaps — hazy still, amorphous, indefinite. Patience is my ally, as well as the challenge.

And, well, it's January.
It's winter.
Interminably grey.


 The Layers

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

--Stanley Kunitz

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