Old Man

in the wild untended fields of my heart

sits an old man. the day is late but warm

and the low-angled light spreads like butter

over the tall grass. his beard is white

gone beyond gray and his hair, long and thin

shifts with the wind. he wears an old vest

of many colors, stitched with threads of silver

and his boney white feet sit bare upon the earth.

his hands, held still on his long legs, bear the marks

of a lifetime of choices — he sits beyond judgment

beyond all expectation — he’s been waiting

for a very very long time. he breathes as I breathe.

his soft blue eyes are clouded now

from having witnessed a life, while in the distance

the witches voices rise in round to the beating sound

of his heart– he has always known this singing—

he has known all of the songs of the world.

we are all of us sorcerers,

all singers of this single deathless song.

© J.A. Fink, november 2011


I’ve always been a master of the hedge, the back door left ajar, the psychological bolthole where I can slip if this doesn’t go well.  Work, art, music, relationships — I’ve approached them all with a persistent subconscious restraint, a small holding back, the invisible “not really.”

But it’s not small at all, this reservation.  It’s like trying to get airborne while stubbornly hanging onto a branch.  There can be some pretty interesting flapping around, but not a whole lot of altitude.

Where this pattern comes from is anybody’s guess, but I have my suspicions. On some level, it’s tough to fly while lifting the weight of all of these stories (like a parachute full of bricks- it’s not much protection in the end.) The “not good enough” (this classic piece of Americana); the “who do you think you are?” (where we shoulder the weight of someone else’s fear); the dread of being embarrassed or judged that underlies so much of the fear of failure.

And of course, over time, this fabric of stories becomes it’s own story with it’s own weight carefully woven through the gravity of repetition. So when do we get to put it down? And what triggers that decision? Of course, this has to be more of a process than an event, but still, when?

I carry a picture in my mind of an old man, his hair gone gray and long, having finally arrived at that place of nothing left to prove and nothing left to fear.  He’s watching his grandchildren play. He closes his eyes and savors the laughter.  His old face is warm.

So there it is — before it’s truly too late, I aspire to shrug off the heavy brocade, this fabric of stories and at least once to feel the wind directly on my skin.

I aspire to embrace my own inner fool, to go “all in” as often as I can stand it.

I want to kick the door shut behind me and head into the hills, to trust that a trail will form itself, even if it’s not at all where I thought I was going, to reach for the edge of the cliff and simply keep climbing, to relax my grip and trust that the wind will carry me

or not…

© J.A. Fink 2013

mud season

it’s mud season here

tipping from winter into spring

though so far the earth

seems a bit behind the sky.

if I walk these hills early

yesterday’s footprints are deep

and hard, and what will later

become puddles are still frozen

and cracked, broken.

as we all are broken, all

incorporating our share of mud,

carrying our own embarrassing stones

yet still smooth

on the surface, still shiny.

it’s almost as if we’re afraid of spring,

reflexively clinging

to the cold,

to the hard and to sharp, yet spring

will come, whether we welcome it or not.

one morning

yesterday’s steps

will be gone, and this ground

will again become pliable, this ice

will soften and run

leaving only

the faint trace of its passing

leaving only this irregular ring

of moist fertile soil

leaving, despite all

of our terrible fears, no stain

whatsoever on the sweet green face

of this earth


© J.A. Fink 2013