“I wish I understood the beauty
“I wish I understood the beauty
The grass is so green, it’s hard to imagine it any other way.
Last week it was like Where’s Waldo.
Today, it’s like heads in the back row.
Soon to be center stage.
the sound of an early rain on the leaves
the first breath of air through the trees
the union of self and sound and air and ease
without doors or windows or shoes or sleeves
August is the month that brought so much harvest into my life. My beloved, both of our sons, even these Green Mountains, upon which a soft rain falls, this first week of September–my grieving week–spinning a cocoon of communion–inside the arms of all those Goddesses of compassion–Mary, Tara, Kuan Yin–and all those who plumb the depths of what it is to be human.To love.To lose.To love again.
best source of white twinkle lights?
Maine is Vermont’s wilder cousin. I have one of those too. I adore her riveting company, but soon retreat to the familiarity of home where I romanticize her rough edges & salty sprays.
museums. movie theaters. malls.
blackberries. watermelon. cukes.
ponds. streams. seas. sprinklers. showers. ice. sweat.
left nostril breathing. curled tongue breathing. slow movements.
Wild berry scat
Path to the woods shower.
The older I get & the more I travel away from home, the more I realize what it is about this particular spot that suits me so well: S-p-a-c-i-o-u-s-n-e-s-s and the balancing embrace of the woods. The proximity of water. Still. Flowing. Fresh. Frozen. The rainfall. Lush. Moist. The shade. Secluded spaces. The tree to people ratio. The head space. The room to see and smell and feel.The light in the east and the south, the west and the north. Southern exposure, particularly come winter. Quiet. The call of the thrush. The hoot of the owl. The hush of snow.
oh, july! a night like summer.
cool shower under a rising moon.
bare bodies, even ours, fresh like dew.
the stone path, underfoot, still warm,
lit by lamps, fed by the sun.
the house, from the woods, aglow.
It took me years to surrender. To allow and even welcome the sweltering heat. To know it as a gift. Fleeting in these mountain spaces so often filled with chill.
When I see a man
on his knees
in the garden
on a Sunday
summer & fall
Let there be snapping turtles!
(Born on the first day of Autumn, 2016, South Pond.)
There were 20 minutes when no one was there.
Not on the beach.
Not in the water.
Not across the pond.
I strip down in an instant
and dive into the September waters
and daringly continue out
toward our town
the altar of summer.
I lift myself onto the dock
and lie there
under the sun,
one middle-aged breast
deflating to each side.
No virgin offering
to this lasting day of summer.
And before I hear a car door slam
or the crunch of a stick underfoot,
I slip off the dock
and make my way back through the cool water to the shore.
I wrap myself in a towel,
and stand at the water’s edge
to let the sun kiss my face,
in communion with the stillness
Just then, a head appears,
out of the soft ripples I left behind.
It’s the one we’ve watched grow from a chick on his mother’s back
to being left behind by the mating pair to come of age on his own.
The loon and I regard one another,
and then he dives under the water again,
and I sit down with a book.
Russ and Andi appear
in their beach chairs
in the grass.
we hold the silence
of the eternal moment…
of this summer day
Until we’re startled by a flock of geese
who lift from the banks
and swoop across our view,
and circle the pond
and rise over the mountains
What about all those times when any kind of bed would have been a welcome relief:
…that night on the park bench in Pamplona
…the bucket seat on the ferry crossing from Ireland
…the overcrowded train car from Milano to Switzerland
But I had slept at least some on each of those nights without the pressure points of this deck-of-cards body; and there had been nights, like this one, with a bed, even at 20, when I couldn’t sleep…
… the Shrimp Diablo
…that night in Nice
…the mornings after cheating
And now the second margarita instead of supper at Happy Hour.
There are children
With aching stomachs.
There are the ill and the aged and the terrorized.
Who am I to claim deprivation?
What of nursing mothers, teething toddlers, and the dying–and those tending them.
I should have had some dinner.
I should have skipped the indulgence of a second cocktail.
Should I have stayed home?
Never left the comfort of my bed?
Instead of writing now, at 2:30 am, with a view of the lighthouse, on a island across Saco Bay?
Sometimes I can’t bear the pain that lies ahead
So exquisite is the joy I’ve known.
I began writing at 18 to feel less alone.
I began offering my work at 36 so that others might feel less alone.
I am lying awake on a tiny strip of land beside the sea.
Who are these people in the passing cars and where are they going at 3:30 am?
I’ll close with a poem for all those who are still awake.
The Sleepless Ones
What if all the people
who could not sleep
at two or three or four
in the morning
left their houses
and went to the parks
what if hundreds, thousands,
went in their solitude
like a stream
and each told their story
what if there were
fearful if they slept
they would die
and young women
unable to conceive
fearful of failing
worried about paying bills
having business troubles
and women unlucky in love
and those that were in physical
and those who were guilty
what if they all left their houses
like a stream
and the moon
illuminated their way and
they came, each one
to tell their stories
would these be the more troubled
or would these be
the more passionate of this world
or those who need to create to live
or would these be
and I ask you
if they all came to the parks
and told their stories
would the sun on rising
be more radiant and
again I ask you
would they embrace
~ Lawrence Tirnauer
(note: I first heard this poem read by author Dani Shapiro in her workshop, The Stories We Carry.)
without acting on it
enlarges our freedom
We came to Vermont for the clean air, the heightened perspective, the depth of thought and consciousness.
We gave up cable long before we arrived.
Once here, in a town without a traffic light, we learned to live with even less distraction. To embrace silence. Early nights. Slow reads. Pillow talk. Sleep.
Then came the internet.
The web expanded our horizons, enriched our conversations, increased our opportunity, and fractured our attention.
The single screen in the den was replaced by individual screens, of all sizes, in each pair of hands, in every room, at every hour, on workdays and weekends and holidays.
Family time, once incidental, now needed to be scheduled and rescheduled and relinquished in favor of independent pleasures. Moments passing and glancing at each others screens. Morning spaciousness obsolete. Bedtimes later. Pillow talk extinct. Books ornamental.
It’s come to this. To know. That my attention. Has rarely been singular.
In a weekend retreat with Tara Brach at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, I make a discovery. Once singularly focused on nothing but my breath, I am overcome. By anxiety.
Soon after, I realize. It’s time.
The first 24 hours are agonizing. The next 48 touch and go. An entire week disrupted by unrequited desire.
Gradually, Facebook fades to the background. Cravings pass like those for sugar following a post-holiday detox.
But in the absence of posting and notifications, something else arises:
Day after day.
Night after night.
Death. Decay. Disaster.
I stay. I notice. I breathe. I take my supplements.
(I drink a little.)
The weeks pass and I begin to notice something else arising, anew:
Like a seedling in May. Or an early morning in June. Or the cool grass under my feet. Or the hush of days end. Or the call of the hermit thrush from deep in the woods. Or the sound of rain on our metal roof.
Attention and intention aligned once again.
At the end of the month, I come upon this Rumi quote in Tara’s book, True Refuge:
Do you pay regular visits to yourself?
I feel the invitation; but I don’t know how to RSVP.
I’m already intoxicated by all there is to share and receive.
And yet, I also sense a subtle shift.
And the freedom that accompanies the in between.