I went questing for truth in the world like a knight, with set jaw and drawn sword. Ready to scale mountains and slay dragons in their dens. As if truth were a phlegmatic princess, captive, inert and awaiting deliverance. I found it not. I went haggling for truth in the marketplace like a shrill housewife, beady-eyed and tight of fist. Trading insults and scorn. As if truth were a loaf of bread or a ruby-red pomegranate to bargain for. I found it not. I went begging for truth like a vagabond, with bare feet, tangled hair and a piteous expression. As if truth were a susceptible kinsman with philanthropic tendencies. I found it not. So weary with questing, and barter and plea, emptied by failure I called off the search. Leaned my forehead against the window, and looked out on a moonless night, too tired for thought. I watched as the stars came out, like so many lights on so many distant porches. I stood as quiet witness. And I do not know why somehow this — was enough.
Behold the pea plant. How it grows! Tossing tendrils in the air
like slender hands, as if the ground were an ocean, and it,
in danger of drowning. An unreasonable pea-green longing
for lifeline; a lattice, a lamp post, a little wire. What it touches
it spools tightly as thread. True to that valiant motto of pea plants
everywhere: Never Let Go. Such fierceness in one who begins life
so floppy and frail is admirable, also instructive, for those among us
built like the pea plant. Drowning in daily trifles and forgetfulness,
casting our tendrils into the blue unknown, and looking for truth
like a trellis.
Just for today, I would like to dance at the edge of the roof
and encourage some general madness. I shall unloose a flock
of snow white doves into the sky. Failing to find doves,
I shall release eight times a hundred petty grievances instead,
set the air a-tremble with soft wings and forgiveness. I shall
throw my head back and fling my arms wide as if to embrace
the sun, the moon and all the slow-winking stars. Onlookers
will gasp and fear for my safety, “Come down!” they will cry
with upturned faces and hearty disapproval. Laughter will
erupt from my belly, and ripple over the surface of this world
like a purple banner, like a proclamation, impossible to ignore.
I am ready to renounce words. Yes. The shapes and sounds
I’ve held most dear, I have no need for now. Save only one –
Love, I will say, Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.
Today as I chop small red tomatoes in our light-filled kitchen, I look at the green trees waving in the window and think about death. How we travel closer to each other every year, every moment really. The way people in a long relationship move imperceptibly towards each other across time and space, until their beings are so braided together it is difficult to discern where one leaves off and the other begins. At the end of this humble task I will be fifteen chopped mini-heirloom tomatoes closer to my last breath, because life is in a committed relationship with death I think to myself. And it is as if I am discovering this truth for the very first time. The thought fills me with wonder and surprise. Makes me lift my head and look out the window past the green of the trees. To whisper softly, Hello partner.
I want you to know that I have made mistakes
Enough to fill ten thousand king-sized bathtubs
Enough to try the patience of a hundred saints.
I have been terribly stubborn, frequently selfish
And am prone to devastating bouts of pettiness.
Yes. I am quick to fall, slow to rise, full of faults.
Yet I want you to know, that even to my window
Each morning, knocking with long, golden arms
Comes the sun.
Only the arrogant say they do not have time.
Look out the window now and consider this:
You’ve stared at an expressionless screen
And played an unmusical keyboard all day
While the leaves, the leaves on the old oak
Have been feasting on sunlight, yes, chomping
With great relish, and pausing occasionally to
Sip a bit of water from the great tumbler of earth.
Only the ungrateful refuse food at a banquet,
And those fasting in remembrance (Which are you?)
The wise leaves know to eat, drink, and be merry.
Wordless they bless the life around them, while
You my friend, are just so busy being busy.
The poetry of a lightyear lies in its dreamlike definition: a unit of length equal to the distance that light travels in one year in empty space. Just under 6 trillion miles (or 10 trillion kilometers if you prefer). A unit of measurement, in other words, that belongs to the gods. Who, it might be noted, every so often catch us religiously tracking our frequent flyer miles, and try not to smile.