‘In out of the way places of your heart, where your thoughts never think to wander, this beginning has been quietly forming, waiting until you were ready to emerge.’ (John O’Donohue) There are enough ways not to write. There are enough ways to drain the days without holding just one by the hand and saying ‘sit.’
In entering collective undertakings, the possessions of acquisitive, individualistic society feel less my own. Words possessed return too to this collective undertaking of language, of thought world. In dissipating conviction in individual authority, words seem starkly more apt to speak for, speak of, speak to. They are not only my own.
But this light Saturday suggests that speaking with solitary authority is not a necessity for creation. Like learning orchestration, like teaching, I could host these words together in speaking to each other, and still be here.
In the undulations of teaching, of re-thinking, of adoring and detesting, spring is becoming fall, leaving messier tracks without authority, with no one story.
The more attentive I became to the late winter woods, the more foreign, the more newly arrived.
A poem from a red maple in spring, found when prompted, with slick buds: I have many names and neighbors, many tongues like roots on rock. I have many ears in needles listening in being still. Opening, attentive, lying, whispering ‘until, until.’ Until my names come out in ringing, asked like questions, I’ll be here to hear today’s placeholder crying I’ll stay near you, I’ll stay near. It’s an attentive coming going, newly neighbored, nearly touched. I stretch through layers upon layers, tongues transform beseeming stuff.
The field in front has turned and turned this whole spring. I came to watch a place up near and already it’s spent and made itself in changing. A teacher asked the students what is your favorite type of grass? Any question quelling talk of other distant things. But the question opened like this field in front—the grass brittle with frost, the whaff of just mowed, the grass almost a meadow, the squelch of water-logged sod. We portage our canoes around the town dam and sit cross-legged in the prickly grass of almost river, in the May time air of almost warm.
The summer feels itself to be beginning. Fading light swimming in the pond, wide sky clear, boathouse accordion.
A folded poem received leading middle schoolers in the Pilot Range in early summer: Not because of victories I sing Having none But for the common sunshine, the breeze, the largeness of the spring Not for victories but for the day’s work done As well as I was able Not for a seat upon the dais But at the common table
How do we live in places and think in places? What lineage do we enter into and what do we reinvent? What is kin?
‘How do we take back up a collective adventure that is multiple and ceaselessly reinvented, not on an individual basis, but in a way that passes the baton, that is to say, affirms new givens and new unknowns?’ (Vinciane Despret)
You teach who you are. You give them everything you have and they take what they need.
‘Do not try to satisfy your vanity by teaching a great many things. Awaken people’s curiosity. It is enough to open minds; do not overload them.’(Anatole France)
How to be an individual within multiple societies? What is individual in communities today?
The pleasantness of one solitary meal. Two eggs only, brief and paired. The black cat in the apple tree, easily swayed, comes to drink milk from my cup, unafraid. The calf in the field tears grass into food and from this evening porch I hear the grass ripping, it has not yet been quiet enough.
Nothing needs my spirit before I need it myself. I must be my own to give.
The lake is still like a known place Holding my own infancy, largeness. I am a creature that floats for now air filled faulty but bobbing. The lake holds age irrelevant to aliveness. As words, incited, touching the mirror and depth of the lake, neither more nor less alive in ancient being. Words, like the grayness of the lake, give me the best of their beauty to hold in the heat of sunburned cheek, to hold as stones in a pocket. Words, like the rhythm of the lake, ask for ceremony in the morning, if only a steady holding in an opened eye.
The old patterns adore us, and want us back. When we pause we leave openings for new patterns to begin forming. We are still being called.
God speaks to each of us as he makes us Then walks with us silently into the night These are the words we dimly hear: You, sent out beyond your recall Go to the limits of your longing. Flare up like a flame and make big shadows I can move in. Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror Just keep going. Nearby is a country they call life. You will know it by its seriousness. Give me your hand.
(Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy)
There is always time for writing, once the time has begun. Writing is the pulp of time, the intricacy in the cog, the palatable moon crest. And the glow too. Writing is the aggregate, the all-together, the manyed-knowing, the power of ease. My own writing casts wide, knows little, looks ahead.
How to be a poet
Creep up. Go on. Salt the waters yet unsalted. Cry into the calmer realms Unsettled by your calling. Shed lightness but not gladness Know nothing before The saying is said.
Perhaps this is education. Eddying out behind a boulder amidst rapids, held in place by the backwards swirling water, surfing a pillowing wave and watching upstream students drawing nearer. Then shouting come here!, a jabbing pointing to the eddy, lean and cross draw, meet and pause amidst white water, don’t let yourself float by me.
My spirit is re-arranging with the world. When I agreed to teach the semester I agreed to be changed inexpressibly.
This is a week of presence and departure, of promise and extraction. The calf moaning in the night for separation, and the absent waxing moon awaiting patriation.