This week’s blog post is another poetry collection written by Amy Weintraub. We hope these words touch and inspire your practice or your own creative writing.
The great gray,
The great blue,
The great white,
We call you sky.
We look to you to frame us in time.
We look to you to waken us from dreams.
We give meaning to the gestures of your clouds.
We compare you to an open heart,
An open mind.
We sing praises to you,
To your vastness
To your shelter.
In out finiteness,
We call you infinite.
In our humanness that ends,
We pretend you are endless and eternal.
Symbol of infinity,
You are not the everything of love,
But carry love’s fragrance,
Enough to blind us to our measured tomorrows.
Eucalyptus debris hems the path.
Bitter bark peels in silent wind.
Blows like memory into the gullies.
Each day something new exposed.
The walk itself a trampling.
Stay to the center where the way is clear
And only what is necessary
Needs to be seen.
Tolstoy once said “Happy families are all alike,”
which is why he never wrote of them.
A flat surface offers nothing to build the muscle of the heart:
no climb up rocky promontories, no scaling to the pinnacle,
no portal beneath the surface of things.
You had a rough start?
Let your dark thoughts be climbers up the trails.
Mine your unhappiness for the pure gold,
The nuggets of emeralds and rubies
Locked in rock of constriction and withhold.
Poetry seeps from an underground mine.
There it is, shimmering, still naked and unrefined
In your yearning to release.
Beneath the rock of your battered heart,
Lives a scuttling lizard of longing.
Rumi says, “when you look for God,
God is in the look in your eyes.”
Dive with your long lizard tongue into the longing.
Love what is unfulfilled in you.
Bless it for bringing you to this moment.
And when the ecstasy arises, stand and shout
But not so loud that you are deaf to birdsong
Or traffic noise
Or wind singing through aspen
Or the restoration rumble of men and tools
on the Victorian derelict next door.
Sing your bliss out loud or in silence
But do not drown out the sobs
of the man on the mat practicing next to you
or the rusty creak of the old couple dancing—
who may be your parents or a pair of eucalyptus trees.
Then, when you’ve danced your praise on the mountaintop
And the laundry room
And down the aisles of Wall Mart
And heard it echoed back to you one hundred times,
How many ways can you sing your adoration?
Beloved honeybee, dance with me!
Rose, clover, dandelion—Divine!
I am bored with ecstasy—yours and mine!
Stand still in the cha-cha-cha of your life—
One step forward, one step back
Three steps exactly where you are,
The unsteady wobble and stumble of your gait
Speaks to you of doubt and willingness
and the steady pulse of joy and grief
throbbing through your veins.
Stand beneath a magnolia tree or an old eucalyptus
or kneel before a rose
And let your prayer be as innocent as the Baal Shem Tov’s:
“For him, prayer was
a quality of attention.
To make so much room
for the given
that it can appear as gift.” *
Wait, beloved, and watch.
Until you see the deer on the road
through the eyes of your heart.
Stand still and let the wild pumping of blood and breath
move you to gaze into another’s eyes
and the solitary doe of your heart
Startles you awake.
* from “The Baal Shem Tov,” by Stephen Mitchell, Parables and Portraits (HarperPerennial, 1990)
The oldest leaf carries the scent,
Scorched by sun,
Pale as dusty earth
All color dissolved,
Trampled by paws,
Washed by rain,
Beaten again by boots.
When you pick it up,
It crumbles in your hand,
Falls back to earth
But leaves a scent.
The young leaf, green with life,
Still clinging to the branch
Needs the presence of the root
To know itself.
If you try to carry an old leaf home,
Your pocket will be full of dust.
Stand beneath the tree.
Melt into the fragrance.
Be the crumbling.
At some moment, you split in two.
In your hunger for the sun,
You’ve forgotten your magnificent trunk.
Two mighty trees, yearning for union,
You cross each other,
Mirroring your separation.
Keening for each other in the wind,
Again and again, you creak
Open to welcome the Guest,
Then slam shut in careless seeking.
Softly now, there’s no wind tonight.
Still your leaves,
Quiet your branches,
Slow the flow of your sap.
You need only remember your root,
To know you are one.
When we first met
I explored your trails
Every day a new vista
Pheromones alight with your eucalyptus scent.
I found metaphor in rock and lizard
In the skin of your trees
The wind through your leaves
And the swaying creaking doorways to your sky.
Excitement grew in each new view of you
You offered no switchbacks to ease the way.
Heat and breath building to the peak
And then satiated tumble home
Pregnant with poem.
Sliding down pathways not meant for human feet—
The skinned-knee, ankle-twisting, tick fleeing flight
Back into retreat.
Now when we meet
It’s not for exercise.
Not the speedy coming
Nor the proof I can mount you again
Can reach the summit one more time.
Now it’s a slow and steady climb
Through the safe center of your fire trail
Love undistracted by falling
Becomes a poem in the afterglow.