Eternities before the first-born day,
Or ere the first sun fledged his wings of flame,
Calm Night, the everlasting and the same,
A brooding mother over chaos lay.
And whirling suns shall blaze and then decay,
Shall run their fiery courses and then claim
The haven of the darkness whence they came;
Back to Nirvanic peace shall grope their way.
So when my feeble sun of life burns out,
And sounded is the hour for my long sleep,
I shall, full weary of the feverish light,
Welcome the darkness without fear or doubt,
And heavy-lidded, I shall softly creep
Into the quiet bosom of the Night.
James Weldon Johnson
I give you the ploughed field,
the smell of the moist earth.
the first shine of rainfall.
the full seed burst open;
the fragilely groping
pale-fingered blind roots;
the green spear of living
thrust splendidly upward.
I give you the sun for a
summer’s full season,
the cold shine of moonlight;
the wind tossing green waves;
the stir of the little mice
under this canopy
under these grasses.
I give you all men who have
shaped the furrow:
the sower. the reaper;
the factory worker
who founded the metal.
who fashioned the stern plough;
he who guided the thrasher.
I give you their toil and their
sweat and their heartbreak.
their despair and their courage.
their strength and their tenderness.
I give you the mill and the
song of the millers,
older than Egypt.
as ancient as hunger.
I give you the harvest.
the hum of the reapers,
the noise of the thrashers:
the warm grain poured out in a
great golden river;
give you the fine flour
moistened and sweetened:
salted and leavened;
stirred with humiiity.
kneaded with reverence;
give you the risen dough
warm to the shaping touch.
live as a beating heart
under these urgent and
I give you the bread at last
fragrant as springtime:
fashioned of earth and sun;
sweet as a summer field.
good as the gentle rain.
golden as harvest.
Take and eat, saith the Lord.
This is the sacrifice
This is my body both
broken and offered.
This is the mystery.
This is the living God.
Feed on him in thy heart
by faith with thanksgiving.
Taken with Instagram
Under the tiresome flat brightness
of sun, everything sticks in the humid air,
especially flesh. Her opaque powdered skin,
surrounding arms and presented cheek
sicken me. Can’t she see I’ve grown
beyond a mother’s embrace. The endless
candy tints of flowers, clothes, boats
and fruit all cloy. It takes years
for shallow August to melt into Septemer.
I hate the smell of her orchards, overripe
apples rot on the grass, covered
by swarms of bees whose abdomens pump
in delight. I live for the first cold
twilight, the dry leaf scent, the color
of dark gold everywhere, deepening,
when the long, purple shadows signal
my coming escape, when the sun’s
more oblique angle will bring him,
his black eyes, the depth of night.
I won’t go. Or, when he who drains
all color from the earth comes
to claim me, I’ll show him what ice is.
I’ll be numb as death to his touch,
shrouded inside like a bulb’s dormant core.
I hate her for making a bargain
that links my fate to the sun’s decline.
Can’t it stay September, when the fields
swarm with grain, bowing the tired stalks,
when bright melons grow round to the point
of bursting and everything is ripe,
fecund, and the apple, in its red heaviness
cleaves to the bough? Can’t we stay
at this moment of fullness, all formed,
ready for birth, but not going, so
our closeness does not end with the first
cold night, when the dark other,
who plucks all friut, arrives
to take me into that separate world?
There is no place without loss
as I shunt between two worlds,
timed to that huge burning star.
When day enlarges to outlast night,
I’m banished from his presence,
rise above ground. Either he is gone,
my large dark partner, and although
I dread his gaze, or think I may not
survive the pairings, I still feel
the icy pull, the deadly penetration
of desire; or I am missing her,
the mother whose brightness feeds me
honey, grains, apricots, in the long
summer grass under a lavish sun. I could
drown in her beauty, remain an infant
forever, or dissolve in her arms,
if there were no necessity of leaving,
no longing for return, regular
as equinox, to his deep world.
To remember you’re alive
visit the cemetery of your father
at noon after you’ve made love
and are still wrapped in a mammalian
odor that you are forced to cherish.
Under each stone is someone’s inevitable
surprise, the unexpected death
of their biology that struggled hard, as it must.
Now to home without looking back,
enough is enough.
En route buy the best wine
you can afford and a dozen stiff brooms.
Have a few swallows then throw the furniture
out the window and begin sweeping.
Sweep until the walls are
bare of paint and at your feet sweep
until the floor disappears. Finish the wine
in this field of air, return to the cemetery
in evening and wind through the stones
a slow dance of your name visible only to birds.
Jim Harrison, from Songs of Unreason