There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.
— Charles Dickens
I have come into this body out of darkness,
out of the starless sea. I am not to blame
for what happened there. Those were difficult
times and I was nothing more than a thought.
The world just had faith I would eventually exist,
the way a pool of water imagines sunrise.
All night long, the waters dream about dawn.
Still I was loved; in stillness, I was loved.
In the Nightland we are all loved.
Which is why, in time, we all return.
I would not have you misunderstand.
Death is not natural, not a part of life
or an event in it. Life is life and death
is something else. We go on, but we go beyond.
So death is not something we can be ready for.
We are alive and live in the light,
and between light and its absence
there can be no compromise.
Yes, those were hard times. Everything
waiting to be born is under stress
and every thought – even those loved
beyond life, beyond time or even thinking –
is a prayer for change.
The darkness around us is deep.
And then I was, I am. Not the One I Am,
just me. Out of everything that is nothing
into everything that is. The infinite light
and this body, Being, and the others left behind.
From that moment until this and until the last
which comes at any unknown, unnamed time,
there is you. There is us and we have played
in high sunlight on the shore and in moonlight
climbing in her arc over these hills and all along
the great valleys. We have never been apart;
not separated by miles or by pain,
or even by the whole body of the world.
I wish it was that way forever, except that maybe
we’d forget the desperate rush of love.
Now I struggle even to remember the middle
of the journey of our life. I look for myself
and see trees, sometimes a man
in the crooked distance – just a speck
in a black coat, years from now.
And that man in the black coat turns,
searching, lost. I am powerless to help.
Still we have each other and these hours.
The climbing moon — bright in a night of breezes —
is sweeping in her gentle arc and singing of the sea.
May 20, 2016
Note: This poem is for my Mom. I sat down in mid April to write a poem for Mother’s Day and managed to hack out the first 3 stanzas. The rest wouldn’t come. Finally, late last night, in the midst of a long binge on The Grateful Dead, it arrived. Replete with allusion to Dante and homage to Bly and Stafford, it fell from the middle distance homuncular, and with a sigh.