Some Seemingly Random Elements of a Metanarrative
“They said, ‘You have a blue guitar, You do not play things as they are.’ The man replied, ‘Things as they are Are changed upon the blue guitar.’” (Wallace Stevens, “The Man with the Blue Guitar“)
Awakening from a disorienting nap —
still wrapped in dreams that brew and stew circles,
circles of people who mill in the dining room
until it’s the living room.
That dream-morph shakiness of place and time.
And later or sooner I step off a high stone wall,
drifting toward ground, I decide
whether I will die, whether I will land
face up or down.
When I open my eyes, I’m caught
by the spruce tree’s boughs,
whose upper limbs and needles thatch a definite web,
a hub of straight lines that arc, that ebb,
so many massed and melded bits of breathing body:
a man’s grizzled forearm, dusty gazelle striping,
ghostly Indian pipe plant, clutch of feathers.
A crow cries, flies from beyond my vision
into the tree, near this web, or what looks like a web,
with some unlikely span of bread embeaked,
and returns to the void beyond my vision.
It’s not that there’s nothing true.
It’s not that there’s no reality.
There is a way of recognising
and of not recognising, in each moment.
Crow, spruce, circle, bread, eye —
atomic particles and charged energy fields —
re-formed, prefigured, implied.
I do not know which to prefer, The beauty of inflections Or the beauty of innuendos, The blackbird whistling Or just after. (Wallace Stevens, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”)
The story of my life,
so much mine,
what I possess outright,
what comes closest to being anyone else’s.
I feel indelible,
until I look ahead a moment
and see the empty open place
where ink has already disappeared.
A span of time? Flesh and fur? A breath, or gasp, or whisper?
A linear motion that arcs and swirls across a center line?
A quality of being, formed in space and time …
or formless, yes, the slightest pause between
“All faith is autopsy” -- Søren Kierkegaard autopsy: from Greek, autopsia, a seeing with one’s own eyes. 1. The personal act of seeing.
I read that a religion should answer four questions:
1. What explains the human condition?
2. What is salvation?
3. What is the nature of goodness?
4. What is transcendent?
Pretend this is true.
Two things explain much:
We want more, and it’s both more and less than enough.
We want what the other has and
we want what the other wants.
And, we forget. We forget.
There is no other.
It’s a thin space, liminal, porous,
air even more than it’s ash.
Salvation is how we are reminded constantly.
How we are reminded — in glimpses, echoes, shimmers,
a fluttery beating, restless silence, a dream or memory
that leaves a shadowed residue as it slips away —
that everything living is loved. That each and every
each and every
is being reconciled, delivered, re-created no matter what
we think we see.
Goodness begins in every moment by recognising
our own complicit violence.
Goodness recognises suffering, acts with compassion,
ardently pursues peace, resists rivalry
and easy dichotomies,
The transcendent is everywhere
there is anything and nothing.
It’s the deepest, darkest arctic magic,
the cry you hear in the wilderness,
the voice you want to hear inside,
a spirit, a creature, a yes that never ends,
parabola: “a type of curve such as that made by an object that is thrown up in the air and falls to the ground in a different place”
The parable that frames my life,
the curve of story I am fitted to, or fight with
But more interesting to me:
the object thrown into the air,
the landing spot,
the damage caused by impact,
what the air feels.
“She dreams a little, and she feels the dark Encroachment of that old catastrophe, As a calm darkens among water-lights. The pungent oranges and bright, green wings Seem things in some procession of the dead ... “ (Wallace Stevens, “Sunday Morning“)
I think my dreams mean something.
I think they point
Take note! Elevators frequently dislocate from their housing and fly around wherever they please! You can, too!
Remember! You may suddenly find that the person in front of you is, in reality, another person, even another species! Look hard!
Wait a minute! All those phones ringing, all those fish swimming — What’s phony here? What’s fishy? Listen up!
Don’t fear! You may be lost in an ominously dark building, hurtling towards oncoming traffic, running in place while something menacing is chasing you — But you can wake up anytime! You can even change your own dream while you’re dreaming it. Try it!
“To trust perception again is like learning to lean on water. The water, moving over minnows, is haunted.” (Mona Van Duyn)
Leaning on moving water,
shaping myself to the moods, curves, flows
the water becomes familiar,
“Recognise what is in your sight, and what is hidden will become clear to you.” (The Gospel of Thomas)
I imagine that an animal, Jesus, lives,
eternally, every moment,
and so can I.
I imagine that
when he lived in that body,
he desired and loved beauty, justice, and grace
as God does, clear-eyed, broken-hearted,
suffering with, and in suffering, healing;
living with, and in living, knowing;
giving voice to, and in giving voice, awakening compassion for exiles, cast-offs, the blind and begging;
adulterers, widows, children;
people who couldn’t let go: of money, rules, assumptions, fears;
dopey disciples, me.
Seeking in every moment to restore balance and justice
in a world shattered
and well-ordered by murder;
I imagine that
when he died, he made space in himself
for those who hate him;
aware of our true, obscuring ignorance,
our “cloud of knowing” that sticks and strives,
stumbles over the same shadowed stoop,
so little practice with anything
other than lies:
that destroying evil brings peace,
that fighting violence diminishes violence,
that I am not deserving, and neither are you,
that love has anything to do with deserving;
I imagine that
when he walked away from death,
witnesses told the story. Not their story,
but the story of the innocent victim,
which changes how I see what I do,
and then, sometimes, what I do.
“colossal hoax of clocks and calendars.” (ee cummings)
It’s always now. I’m always here.
I can dream the door wide open.
There is no door. There is no I.
When nothing is sure, everything is possible. (Margaret Drabble)
No hope for the planet, for creation,
for my own violent nature,
for human progress,
for better living through science,
for community through technology,
for peace through meditation and prayer.
I pray, meditate, participate
When I notice, barely, my own violence
I offer it solace and wait in it, fidget,
pray for sustainable peace.
I am learning non-violence.
I am getting to know the Earth.
But: no hope.
Faith that love will always embrace,
disarm, and absorb the power of hate.
What that looks like,
is looking like,
will look like,
is beyond me. Or perhaps within me.
Whatever it is,
I rejoice with the stars
to flicker for a moment.