Recently had a chance to spend a week retreat at Karme Choling, the Shambhala meditation center in Barnett Vermont, one of my favorite places– early season snows, ice, darkness and light.
it’s always the lovely ones
who brave this world without a shell,
fated to feel everything, to snag themselves
on every thorn, strike every sharp corner
of this brilliant chaotic world.
yet they rise and rise again undaunted
wounded but alive, shake themselves off
and look the word straight in the eye
then charge headlong, raging, laughing
beautiful and free, straight
through the narrow rusty gates
of our hearts
I’m old enough now to see
how I’ve lived my life in dogs,
each a sun-warmed stone
in this stream of loneliness.
by these have I kept my feet dry,
have I so far made it across.
I look into the brown eyes
of my young black dog,
and can’t help but do the math.
My heart breaks in the knowing
of that distant day when he tells me —
it is time. When do we begin
to die? not at birth, surely,
there’s such a rush to life
for so long, but it slows somewhere,
somehow deep inside of itself
it starts to slow, until one day
as we sit together talking,
this slowing shows itself
in our faces, in our eyes, in our first
clear diminishing, and then we know,
yes we know. We’ve had a week now
of cold nights and windy mornings
the clouds dropping down, scraping
the tops of the aspens, stripping them
of leaves. Snow will come soon
to these mountains, but for today,
I still have this chair by the stream,
still the sounds of the stream over stones,
still a black dog warming his bones
in the late day sun. for today,
this is sufficient. for today this
is wealth enough for a life.
on hearing the voices of children late at night from our riad deep within the Medinah….
last night, just as I closed the door
to consciousness and stepped into
the cool blue anteroom of sleep, I heard
the voices of small children, rising, falling,
echoing through the house, familiar voices
passing just beyond my comprehension.
are these the voices of children
gone before, or of those still to come –
or are these the sounds of the lost
and harshly punished parts of myself
that are running now, their small
black and white shoes clattering
down the long wooden hallways of time,
rushing to see who’s come to the door,
to see who’s come to reclaim them
after such an unforgivably long time.