“We listen to the inexhaustible chant of the sea within us, as it rises and falls in our heads, like the approach and retreat of the strange desire we have for heaven, for love, and all that we cannot touch with our hands.” ~ Jean-Michel Maulpoix, from “We know love exists through hearsay”
Patience, please. The words are many, but I am not yet able to shape them. The air outside is so cold, as cold as the dark pit in my heart.
What It’s Called
It’s called the Shepherd of the Snakes, this black
butterfly with white spots. It’s called Heart in a Sling,
this small, heavy flower reaching down towards the earth.
I learned this the other day from a man whose name dissolved
into this limestone earth. Learned, later, that I have been
living directly over the fault line of Mala Dolina,
the little sinkhole, directly over the Reka river that appears
and disappears like a snake in the grass. Eventually,
everything we see commits a kind of suicide. Eventually,
every star becomes a heap of cinders floating aimlessly.
It’s nearly 6 PM and I can hear the horses calling from
somewhere beyond the rock wall. You can smell the rain
in the air before it starts to rain, but there’s nothing about
the soul’s weather we can know until later. It’s called
the soul’s scar tissue, this distance from the dead.
It’s called the borja, the wind that tears across
the stone roofs of this village at a hundred miles an hour.
Beneath me, a people whose names have been lost
for thousands of years took refuge by climbing into
the caves hidden in these cliffs. The floors there are
made of fallen roofs and hopes, broken histories.
It means we are always walking above ourselves down there.
It means we are walking above time. Above me now
Jupiter and Venus echo each other from two corners of
the sky. Beneath them the village graveyard holds the man
who mapped the caves. The dead keep dying within us.
It’s like a drowned man’s watch that still keeps time.
The early bats are tying the air, the heart, into knots. They
fly on the wings of grief. The late butterfly follows them
over the edge of the cliff where the earth becomes the air
we turn into. It’s called mirror vision when we see what isn’t
here. The kind of faith that fails at unexpected moments
the way a climber reaches for a hold that will never
in his life, be there. It’s called despair
when we open the door of a heart that no longer exists.
Jim Simmerman, 1954-2006
~ Richard Jackson
Starting today I will be invisible.
I will be consecrated,
and everything corruptible, time
and the soul, will slip off me, sleek
against my skin. I will use all my good fortune
to resist the hours, how they pool
so lovingly in the light. Starting now.
Will watch without rancor
as the afternoon sharpens its knives.
Will live in perfect solitude
like the moth, whose idea of God
must be reckless attraction,
radiant and extinguishing.
And if I have ever offended God,
let the records state my doubt
is a failure of the intellect,
not the will. One shock,
one turn on the road is all it takes,
one Zen zap and the mind
is fallen, and suddenly it makes sense,
all this burning. But it is the darkness
I keep seeing, the shocked silence
between the apparition
and the saint. Something I can write over,
so I can say this night is for light
to fill. Sorrow is a vessel so deep
it can hold anything, even its own absence.
Let the demons of unhappiness
look away. Or their eyes burn
with hate as I pass by.
~ Eric Gamalinda
Music by A Fine Frenzy, “Near to You”