November 25, 2015

By grace alone

As a child I felt the power that imbued all things
(I did not know your name
                but felt your breath in the March wind
Smelled and saw and knew you in the rotation of the seasons
In the crisp light of the stars
                and in eerie light of fireflies
In the clatter of dry leaves
                and in the cool
                                                silence of the snow
In all things
Illuminating to me in the magical intensity of sundown
High cloud spread across heaven
                and insect singing down below
All alive
From the moon
                to the smallest young green leaf
                (When was it that I lost you
                and forgot?

When was it I that I lost that light within me
Trading it for a mixture
                of intractable hungers
                and withered
                                shrunken facts?
                (When I began to think myself the center of the universe
                                and ceased to breathe?
                                (When I became an island
                                                in a cold sea far from home)

Into that darkness I have gone unknowingly and quietly
With the approval of my peers
(but I have gone nonetheless)
Little by little
                in the way that all things freeze in your absence
                                (I have lived the long decades as a fitful corpse
                                lost in my dark thoughts
                                gnawed by demons seen and unseen
                                                (I have moved restlessly
                                                and stood still restlessly
                                eaten and slept and dreamed restlessly

A thoughtless animal on the fringes of a thoughtless herd
                (As they have groaned
                I have groaned

                As they have feared and shivered and despised
                I too have feared
                                and shivered
                                                and despised
I have been as nothing
                as a hungry mole among the roots of giant trees
                consuming the days I could not see
                and as certainly consumed by them

For this is the fallen world in all of its spectacle
The world of art
The world of haughty institutions
                (Dead are the minds that murder with ideas and words
                Dead are the tongues that lust for recognition
                                Here the murderer
                                and there the murder’s handiwork
                                                Here the liar
                                                and there the lie

                                We call it social progress
                                                (It is death)

                                We call it wisdom
                                                (It is death)

Here the years have rotted
There the days
                thrown onto the age-old heap of vanities and hatreds
Have you not been with me all along
Following in silence like my shadow
                (When in fact you are the Man
                and I the shadow
                                You are the light
                                and I the darkness
                                                I the illusion
                                                and you the truth

Have I not called out to you from the very bottom of my fears
(in the worst of my moments
                with the most abject of prayers

                only to be lifted up on unseen hands
                                which I then
                                                in turn

Blown in to this corner of a disinterested world
My heart still beating desperately
                wanting to live
Superficially sufficient
                but a nervous
                                hollow shell
                Here you have bought and paid for my remains
                                stood me up
                                                on wavering legs
                                                with a flickering new sight
                                dimly seeing what I have always seen
                                                and never seen
                                                (what I have long despised

                                                                and always loved)

How can I ask for anything at all of my accord?
                (I bend as a willow in the wind
                You beat me with storms
                                and suffuse me with light

                I am enough as I am
                                in all my weakness
                (I have asked enough
                for I am no more than dust

Are you not the eye that sees into my inmost self?
Am I not as you have made me
All that is wretched and all that is good
All that strives
                and all that fears?
(Do not the seasons spin around me
                day in
                                and day out
                While I watch and feel and breathe

                My heart open
                My debts
                                made good

Do I not praise you as all dust must praise the rain
(From its nature
                from its smallness
                                as a child
                reaches up impossibly toward the sky

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