Spiritual sustenance, naturally.

Posts tagged ‘Poetry’

Adrienne Rich

 

In honor of Adrienne Rich.

Wisdom is knowing, understanding, and learning during the short time remaining to us.

Transcendental Etude

No one ever told us we had to study our lives,
make of our lives a study, as if learning natural history
or music, that we should begin
with the simple exercises first
and slowly go on trying
the hard ones, practicing till strength
and accuracy became one with the daring
to leap into transcendence, take the chance
of breaking down the wild arpeggio
or faulting the full sentence of the fugue.
–And in fact we can’t live like that: we take on
everything at once before we’ve even begun
to read or mark time, we’re forced to begin
in the midst of the hard movement,
the one already sounding as we are born.

Image

Thanks to The American Poetry Review for this photo.

https://www.aprweb.org/author/adrienne-rich

 

Two Roads

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…

Telling its story against the vanishing

Today a Religious Naturalism email list sent the poem The Enigma We Answer by Living (reprinted at the bottom of this post) by Alison Hawthorne Deming , which was featured on the Panhala website.

What does nature compel you to do?

My father was compelled to chase butterflies, moths, and other insects. As a child, I saw him in the yard, hunting them down with his white net on a pole. I watched them die in his poison jar, fluttering their wings for the last time. I saw them arranged and labeled, a pin through each tiny body, and peered into their display cases at the university where he taught biological sciences.

I am compelled to create winged clothing,  garments of leaves, crowns of berries and thorns, a temple of the cosmos, stories to tell, plantings of herbs, and gatherings of people. Some people are compelled to write poetry.

The Enigma We Answer by Living

Einstein didn’t speak as a child
waiting till a sentence formed and
emerged full-blown from his head.

I do the thing, he later wrote, which
nature drives me to do. Does a fish
know the water in which he swims?

This came up in conversation
with a man I met by chance,
friend of a friend of a friend,

who passed through town carrying
three specimen boxes of insects
he’d collected in the Grand Canyon –

one for mosquitoes, one for honeybees,
one for butterflies and skippers,
each lined up in a row, pinned and labeled,

tiny morphologic differences
revealing how adaptation
happened over time. The deeper down

he hiked, the older the rock
and the younger
the strategy for living in that place.

And in my dining room the universe
found its way into this man
bent on cataloguing each innovation,

though he knows it will all disappear –
the labels, the skippers, the canyon.
We agreed then, the old friends and the new,

that it’s wrong to think people are a thing apart
from the whole, as if we’d sprung
from an idea out in space, rather than emerging

from the sequenced larval mess of creation
that binds us with the others,
all playing the endgame of a beautiful planet

that’s made us want to name
each thing and try to tell
its story against the vanishing.

~ Alison Hawthorne Deming ~

(from the book Genius Loci)

Every Blossom a Chalice

Twice recently this poem from Hafiz has come to me from friends, which has led me to share it here. Rain and light. Beautiful.

GOD POURS LIGHT

God

pours light

into every cup,

quenching darkness.

The proudly pious

stuff their cups with parchment

and critique the taste of ink

while God pours light

and the trees lift their limbs

without worry of redemption,

every blossom a chalice.

Hafiz, seduce those withered souls

with words that wet their parched lips

as light

pours like rain

into every empty cup

set adrift on the Infinite Ocean. ~ Hafiz ~

Photo by Seth Rockmuller

A poem that says it all

Born innocent, one

– that’s I –

strives hard to become

an adult, no longer childish,

worldly-wise

in one’s art, one’s love, one’s life . . .

Then discovers:

that no one ever

becomes an adult,

becomes either

delightfully childlike

or pitifully juvenile . . .

Discovers:

one’s art to be outside the art game

one’s faith outside the religious game

one’s love outside the sex game

Discovers:

one’s own little song

and dares to sing it

in all variations,

unsuited as it may be

for mass communication . . .

For perhaps

here and there

someone will hear it

and listen

and know

and say

Ah!
YES!

From Art as a Way: A Return to the Spiritual Roots, Frederick Franck, New York: Crossroad, 1981