In celebration of the solstice with the Persian tradition of seeking the divination of Hafez and for my lovely friend Leila whose visit conjured up good times past, contemplated who we have been and become, and inspired possibilities of days ahead…
All the Hemispheres
Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out
Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadow and shores and hills.
Open up to the Roof.
Make a new watermark on your excitement
Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
Upon our intimate assembly.
Change rooms in your mind for a day.
All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire
While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of
One of These Things First --Nick Drake - Nick Drake
It is all in the mind, you say, and has nothing to do with happiness. The coming of cold, the coming of heat, the mind has all the time in the world. You take my arm and say something will happen, something unusual for which we were always prepared, like the sun arriving after a day in Asia, like the moon departing after a night with us.
So these are the books that made it aboard the boat. One shelf’s worth exactly as planned. I am surprised I can’t remember why some made the cut. Some are collections I picked up to consolidate and some I included just for variety. About a third make up the start of a requisite cruising library. Altogether, they don’t exactly strike me as the list of books I would have packed for life on a deserted island. Then again, that wasn’t the objective. No matter, they are the ones I kept and along with them loose pages of poetry torn from those left behind.
I remember the reservations I had tearing out the first couple of poems but it was such a simple solution that I carried on. I must have torn up fifty or more books and with great delight. How convenient, I thought, that poems are compact. How clever of me to use this to my advantage. I hadn’t even anticipated my amusement months later flipping through for an old favorite and instead being distracted by what’s printed on the reverse or why the folded corners. I certainly didn’t expect the games I could play for hours trying to figure out the names of the poets with only page numbers and vague recollections of book covers for context.
A different me would have never destroyed books without abandon. A different me would have noticed the missing names and felt compelled to note them in the margins. A different me showed up that night to pack the books without much design and a different me is here tonight dog-earing pages for reasons I will eventually forget.
To whoever is not listening to the sea
this Friday morning, to whoever is cooped up
in house or office, factory or woman
or street or mine or harsh prison cell;
to him I come, and, without speaking or looking,
I arrive and open the door of his prison,
and a vibration starts up, vague and insistent,
a great fragment of thunder sets in motion
the rumble of the planet and the foam,
the raucous rivers of the ocean flood,
the star vibrates swiftly in its corona,
and the sea is beating, dying and continuing.
So, drawn on by my destiny,
I ceaselessly must listen to and keep
the sea’s lamenting in my awareness,
I must feel the crash of the hard water
and gather it up in a perpetual cup
so that, wherever those in prison may be,
wherever they suffer the autumn’s castigation,
I may be there with an errant wave,
I may move, passing through windows,
and hearing me, eyes will glance upward
saying ‘How can I reach the sea?’
And I shall broadcast, saying nothing,
the starry echoes of the wave,
a breaking up of foam and quicksand,
a rustling of salt withdrawing,
the grey cry of the sea-birds on the coast.
So, through me, freedom and the sea
will make their answer to the shuttered heart.
The stars suggest patience may be enough
to forget the gravity of want
to hear you speak again of high seas
and weather without fancy
holding your gaze steady
on the horizon
against my softened outline.
knowing more than the stars
of distance and time,
made of mortal light,
cast my own shadow
heavy on the water
craving to tell you now
of all my desires.