Sunday, December 24, 2017

More than Words

Just before the year moves on I read through all the notes, quotations, and marginalia that I copied into notebooks, fly leafs, and book margins. 

“ Every memoirist is with Proust, in search of lost time.”
“ The memoirist writes, above all else, to redeem experience, to reawaken the past, and to find its pattern, better yet, he writes to discover behind bygone events, a dramatic explanatory narrative.”
       Sven Birkerts

...on listening to Dylan Thomas reading in his passionate voice—
“ Not a conspiracy of silence, but a participatory silence, a community collaboration in letting him let the word loose aloud.”
“ The world is blue at its edges and in its depths.”
       Rebecca Solnit

“A frontier has two sides. it is an interface, a threshold, a luminal site, with all the danger and promise of liminality.”
       Ursula K.Le Guin

Water flows over these hands
May I use them skillfully
as I construct and shape the day
      Thich Nhat Hanh 

“If a writer is any good, what he makes will have its source in a realm larger than that which his conscious mind can encompass and will always be a greater surprise to him than it can be to his reader.”
      Flannery. O’Connor

“At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your heart, your back, your brain, and then—only then—is it handed to you.”
     Annie Dillard

“Lying is done with words, but also with silence.”
     Adrienne Rich

“Faith is God’s call to see His trace in the face of another.”
      Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

“ Gaelic there is explicit recognition that the divine is present in others. This presence is recognized in an old saying  —The hand of the stranger is the hand of God.”

“Poets are people who become utterly dedicated to the threshold where silence and language meet.”

“ All words come out of silence. The language of poetry issues from and returns to silence.”
       John O’Donohue

“For the raindrop, joy is in entering the river.”
      18th century Urdu poet Ghalib

“I look at whomever is nearest me so that I may see in that person, for the moment, Christ.”
    Madeline L’Engle

“I balance the wind on the stem of my canoe...”
       Erik Reese

“If you want to build a ship...don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
      Antoine de Saint Exupery

“ Nothing factual that I write or say will be as truthful as my fiction.”
      Nadine Gordimer

“No story begins where it seems to begin; the roots of the tree are hidden from the eye, but they reach down to the waters.”
       Stefan Heym

“ Writing is a form of prayer—writing is to bear witness.”

And I’ll end off transcribing with this Jerry Garcia quote... “What a long strange trip it has been.”


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Eight Night

hold the light
            for my son david 

for those who look
for those who seek
there is always light— fractured
but still there
capture the light in each moment—
when your legs can’t hold you
when your body refuses to listen
when you wonder if the pain will abate
read the words you wrote 
wondering how you got to this place—
this, you said, is when we find out
the depth of our faith—
when you wander in that place
sometimes it is good to stand and rant,
to scream and rage at the universe

until you see a sliver of light

Monday, December 18, 2017

Seventh Night

 breath becomes light
                          for my son david

before you knew the depth of breath 
you knew the depth of words
words that were written on lined paper
scrawled, hard to decipher
paragraphs typed on copy paper
with words crossed out and new words
added to clarify a meaning, to get it right
to describe the way the ball took flight
to recount the actor’s ability to inhabit a role
to describe the luminosity of a painting 
words were a gift of the universe
honed by the inhale and exhale of breath

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sixth Night

Your Own Path
              —for my son david 

it is said that we all are born with a destiny, but the way we live our life and the decisions we make, the roads we follow, and the crosswalks we take alter that path 
so what was your destiny 
I thought archeologist when at the age of three you fell in love with dinosaurs, knew their names and particular quirks— that was a stage 
in time i thought you might be a theatre critic or a journalist or a sports columnist
so when you turned to art I didn’t see the signs, but you fell in love with the visual way of viewing the world, the colors and shapes artists use to depict our world
and to think that in first grade you didn’t want to paint the turkey feathers a different color 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Fifth Night

Seek the Light
                        for my son david

when the sky darkens find the shaft
of moonlight in the crook of a tree
when words appear to lose strength
listen to water grapple with wind
listen to the rattle of leaves
when taking one footstep after another
think of an ascent up a mountain
from one camp to the next,
resting, moving on to a place
fixed in your mind
when the light moves too far away
sing it back, shout for its return—
then take one more step

Friday, December 15, 2017

Day Fourth

The Luminous Light of Greece
                                                for my son david

just shy of seventeen you traveled to greece and fell in love, not with myths, not with the sea, you fell in love with the light—that luminous light that touched you and burned red hot 
you sought light all over the world, in the photographs you took of tibetan herdsmen, in the art done by maori artists with a foot in traditional art,  in the folk art of an artist who painted scenes from the bibical book of revelations
you collected indigenous art, illuminated each piece with words 
you sought the light in the universe and found shards wherever you went

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Third Night

Light the Night
                         for my son david

some days the light cracks the dark
and i see you glide, sprint through the line
that divides the day and night—
before and now—I see you
riding thermals through clouds

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Second Night

stand in the light
                              for my son david

your first tattoo, a birthday gift from your wife, circles your ankle but later on you discover tattoo artists who inscribe their art on your body—in time indonesian artists hand tap ancient motifs on your arms and legs, pointillism designs spread on your back —each motif carries a spiritual meaning 
you wear a dzi bead from tibet and tell me that it holds healing powers or so you heard from a buddhist monk who believed that the stone would keep the wearer safe

was there a time frame, did you use up its potency

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

First Night

may light surround you
                                       for my son david

once you ran the length of a basketball court, dribbled, passed the ball, waited for an open basket just the way you learned to do when you played at the end of our street the same street you learned to ride a two wheel bike years before you took your first long bike ride from home to cape cod and years before you rode thousands of miles in lands across the ocean 
you hiked in the jungle and canoed on rivers with serpent shaped eels 
you ran mountain marathons in colorado 
now you hold the wind in your memory 

Thursday, December 07, 2017

A Rite of Passage

my father’s mother barely five feet tall and shorter when age took some inches wore her hair in a twist  with some red strands still showing when age rinsed the color out  but age never wiped away recipes learned from her mother in the russian village she left when barely sixteen to travel here and pass through ellis island before starting life in the lower east side of manhattan 

she carried the recipe for latkes within and measured ingredients in egg shells or the palm of her hand while i stood with my cousins waiting for the thin potato pancakes to sizzle in hot oil, crisp and then be placed on brown paper to drain the grease which spread in a circle around each round latke

we spooned applesauce on to a plate and lined up to receive our latkes which we picked up, dipped and ate 

Friday, December 01, 2017

Waiting is Not Heroic

An hourglass holds powdered marble,
 tightens its waist until grain by grain
 trickels through a constructed pathway
A wave stops midway, maintains a pose
The sun doesn’t yield to night
They wait for a letter still unwritten,
a storm force on its way, the telephone call
that may not ring, and a drip that pounds
—a drumbeat that interrupts sleep
Waiting, a historic thumbprint— 
We wait for our turn to speak
Silence is not a response