A guardian of long-distance conduits in the desert? A one-man crew of a fortress in the sand? Whoever he was. At dawn he saw furrowed mountains The color of ashes, above the melting darkness, Saturated with violet, breaking into fluid rouge, Till they stood, immense, in the orange light. Day after day. And, before he noticed, year after year. For whom, he thought, that splendor? For me alone? Yet it will be here long after I perish. What is it in the eye of a lizard? Or when seen by a migrant bird? If I am all mankind, are they themselves without me? And he knew there was no use crying out, for none of them would save him.
Once when the lawn was a golden green and the marbled moonlit trees rose like fresh memorials in the scented air, and the whole countryside pulsed with the chirr and murmur of insects, I lay in the grass, feeling the great distances open above me, and wondered what I would become and where I would find myself, and though I barely existed, I felt for an instant that the vast star-clustered sky was mine, and I heard my name as if for the first time, heard it the way one hears the wind or the rain, but faint and far off as though it belonged not to me but to the silence from which it had come and to which it would go.
“For, were all these Buddhas of yours more foolish than you and I? And yet, just you listen to what they say about this love of the universe and all things corporeal, beginning with sunlight, with a wave, with the air, and winding up with woman, with an infant, with the scent of white acacia! Or else, — do you know what sort of a thing this Tao is, that has been thought up by nobody else but you Chinamen? I know it but poorly myself, brother, but then, everybody knows it poorly; but, as far as it is possible to understand it, just what is it, after all? The Abyss, our First Mother; She gives birth to all things that exist in this universe, and She devours them as well, and, devouring them, gives birth to them anew; or, to put it in other words, It is the Path of all that ex- ists, which nothing that exists may resist. But we resist It every minute; every minute we want to turn to our desire not only the soul of a beloved woman, let us say, but even the entire universe as well! It is an eerie thing to be living in this world, Chang,” said the captain; “it’s a most pleasant thing, but still an eerie one, and espe- cially for such as I! For I am too avid of happiness, and all too often do I lose the way: dark and evil is this Path, — or is it entirely, entirely otherwise?” And, after a silence, he added further: “For after all, what is the main thing? When you love somebody, there is no power on earth that can make you believe that the one you love can possibly not love you. And that is just where the devil comes in, Chang. But how magnificent life is; my God, how magnificent!”
–Ivan Bunin translated by Bernard Guilbert Guerney
“When the world is burning, I seize up and go inward. I don’t speak soon. I get quiet. I watch. I read the words of outrage and heart break and confusion and reflex. I wonder why assault rifles are a thing. I think of the gay clubs I’ve danced in, laughing in the safety of music and friends. I think of how safe I always feel. How easy it is to die. How easy it is to kill. I am not a protestor, a shouter. I am not a fighter. I would die quickly in a war. I would watch my killer with a steady gaze and ask him why. He wouldn’t answer me.
I am glad the white-blood cells of humanity spring forth like grass after the first rain. The way human beings support each other after tragedy is a reminder of how dominant goodness is. How unusual cruelty. I’ve been in the mountains. I’ve watched the river. It’s high right now and has knocked down trees. Those trees are dead. Why? Because of a million tiny drops of rain that never knew the tree added up and tore down the bank. The dreams of the tree are gone. The unthinking water is rushing. The world is too big for me. The hurt of some people, the things that happen to hurt people’s minds that turn them cold and deadly. The accruing of darkness. The kindness we could’ve shown, earlier. The world is too big for me”.
Dusk in August— which means nearly nine o’clock here, deep in the heart of central Jersey—and the deer step out to graze the backyards. They tear each yellowy red tulip cup, munch up rhododendrons and azaleas. Fifty years of new houses have eaten into their woodland, leaving only this narrow strip of trees along the trickly stream that zigzags between Route 9 and Lily’s mom’s backyard. The deer rise from the mist, hooves clicking on asphalt, a doe and a buck, his antlers like a chandelier. Sometimes a doe and two fawns. Or else we see just the white flags of their tails bobbing away into the dark. In theory the DNR should come catch them, let them go where it’s still forest, still possible to live as they were meant to. But these days there’s no money for that. And people keep leaving out old bread, rice, stale cookies, or else plant more delicious flowers. “Mei banfa,” my mother-in-law says: Nothing can be done. Seeing them in the distance—that distance we can’t close without them shying and turning and skittering down Dickinson Lane or bounding over a backyard fence— I try to imagine they’re messengers come back to tell us their stories, any news of the lost or what comes next, though if they could say anything, they would probably say, Go away. –Matthew Thorburn [/i]
It waits. While I am walking through the pine trees along the river, it is waiting. It has waited a long time. In southern France, in Belgium, and even Alabama. Now it waits in New England while I say grace over almost everything: for a possum dead on someone’s lawn, the single light on a levee while Northampton sleeps, and because the lanes between houses in Greek hamlets are exactly the width of a donkey loaded on each side with barley. Loneliness is the mother’s milk of America. The heart is a foreign country whose language none of us is good at.Winter lingers on in the woods, but already it looks discarded as the birds return and sing carelessly; as though there never was the power or size of December. For nine years in me it has waited. My life is pleasant, as usual. My body is a blessing and my spirit clear. But the waiting does not let up.
Let me look at those eyes. I want to know how you are. —Rainer W. Fassbinder
Look. May has come in. It’s strewn those blue eyes all over the harbor. Come, I haven’t had word of you in ages. You’re constantly terrified, Like the kittens we drowned when we were little. Come and we’ll talk over all of the old same things, The value of being pleasant, The need to adjust to the doubts, How to fill the holes we’ve got inside us. Come, feel the morning reaching your face, Whenever we’re saddened everything looks dark, When we’re heartened, again, the world crumbles. Every one of us keeps forever someone else’s hidden side, If it’s a secret, if a mistake, if a gesture. Come and we’ll flay the winners, Laughing at our self leapt off the bridgeway. We’ll watch the cranes at work in the port in silence, The gift for being together in silence being The principal proof of friendship. Come with me, I want to change nations, Change towns. Leave this body aside And go into a shell with you, With our smallness, like sea snails. Come, I’m waiting for you, We’ll continue the story that ended a year ago, As if inside the white birches next to the river Not a single additional ring had grown.
I had a dream one sultry summer’s eve A vision as the sun began to wane An angel weeping made my soul to grieve I clearly sensed his sadness and his pain
With teary eyes I asked him what was wrong And was there anything that I could do His words to me were spoken in a song I came to understand his point of view
He told me he’d been watching from on high So many people fighting down below Why couldn’t they make peace, he wondered why If only they would try, true love would flow
I slept that night uneasy and in prayer Will anyone who reads this even care
Yes I care! I to wish the family of man would play nice in God’s garden. Keep the faith this world is a classroom in which we sometimes make mistakes. One day we all will get it right. Imagine what that would look like.