A Joyful Circle – the Final Lineage Poem

A Joyful Circle – the Final Lineage Poem. And so we come full circle in this series of Lineage Poems. Like medieval astronomers who took the earth to be the center of all things, so does our ego create the illusion that this individual life is the central point of reference in the infinite sweep of time and generations. Past, future, and at the fulcrum, this single life. And I suppose it couldn’t be any other way, however flawed this cosmology of self.

As I write this, I’ve been down for two weeks struggling to recover from pneumonia. It’s honestly been a frightening time. In an earlier post, I mentioned that my only brother died a short time ago, of lung disease as it happens (https://oldbonesnewsnow.com/2022/03/19/sunrise-and-sunset-the-wheel-of-life/.) So losing the ability to breathe triggered both fearful memories and simple animal fear. Just today, it finally feels like my breathing is softening, and the air is beginning to flow.

And also just today, our next grandchild has begun the long, messy, painful, risky and extraordinary process of pushing into this world.

A joyful circle. I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it

And I pray that I will have many, many, more to experience

Little boy, I weep with joy at the prospect of meeting you!

All love,

Jeff

Grandson, Son, Husband, Father, Father-in-law, Grandfather, Ancestor

backcountry touring in Canada February 2020

Two closing poems to bring this home, the first from several years ago

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 a multicolored vest 
stitched with threads of silver
and his boney white feet 
sit bare upon the land

his hands, held still on his long legs, bear the scars 
of a lifetime of choices -- he sits beyond judgment 
beyond expectation -- he’s been waiting 
for a very, very long time 

he breathes as I breathe

his 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 song
 has always known all 
of the songs 

we are each of us sorcerers 
all singers of one single 

deathless song

with Sara atop Kilimanjaro, October 2020

And a final word written very recently

only that

they say it’s our habits, habitual tendencies
that are reincarnated, like a wind
blowing through a window left open

in a newly constructed house. and this
makes sense to me – I haven’t suffered enough trauma
in this one life to be as confused as I seem to be

so I must have swept these old wounds
into the womb with me, an intangible blanket
of familiar mistakes to keep this newborn warm 

 now, as I stare down this narrowing hall
I pray to whatever powers there be
to allow me to direct more precisely
the next go-round

when the last breezes blow
and this basket of bones finally fails
may only one thing pass into the next life--

may I carry forward only 
the tender warmth of my fingers 

as they touch the cheeks
of those I have loved most in this world

that

and only that



May these words be of benefit to all sentient beings
grandpa Jeff with his best girl Sawyer

To explore more poetry with buddhist themes, click here:https://www.shambhala.com/buddhist-poetry-a-reader-guide/

A Joyous Day – Gift of a New Life (8th Lineage Poem)

A Joyous Day – Gift of a New Life (8th Lineage Poem) Nearly three years ago, this lineage began a new phase with the birth of our granddaughter Sawyer. Honestly, I never expected to care much about grandchildren.

I was wrong!

Born on the cusp of covid, she’s always had a bit of “stranger danger” and, of course, this extended to me – kind of still does. Yet we have our own profoundly goofy relationship founded on funny faces, silly noises and mutual surveillance.

She is brilliant, exceptionally verbal and, of course, beautiful. Her blue eyes are stunning, and her crooked grin is simply beguiling.

(I feel very strongly that it’s not my job to post pictures of her on the internet, but below are two that I feel do preserve her privacy.)

I’ve born witness now to the birth and growth of two sons and a granddaughter, and I still have no idea where these exceptional creatures come from, how their intelligence takes root and blooms.

This is the great mystery and the gift of lineage.

I am forever in love

Sawyer in Sara’s hand, a few hours old

mumuration

her small voice rising 
in the dark above the crib
a morning murmuration beginning
spinning, rising, a flock 
of freshly hatched words 
translucent and damp

where did she come from? 
this spontaneous consciousness 
this ascending double helix 
of intelligence - pulsing, spiraling 
wave upon brilliant wave 
of innate wisdom, elaborating
her sweet song, a spark 

radiating across the endless space
of possibility, coming now
to crack open the darkness like a star 
like the first soft light

of this brand new day

Equally astounding is how quickly a child engages, learns to stand, to walk and to step into a tomorrow of her own.

Sawyer and mom Taylor above Ouray Colorado
hers


after a lifetime 
of insisting on my own importance

here I stand, in the shadows 
watching her

watching her

the clouds roll in
and evening pools in the valley

she takes one step forward
and then another, venturing 

to the very edge of the world 
this world that is now hers 

and hers alone


Here’s a link to more poems about the special creatures that are grandchildren:https://allpoetry.com/poems/about/grandchildren

And here’s a link to the seventh of the Lineage Poems – https://oldbonesnewsnow.com/2022/03/08/shadow-people-when-the-lineage-merges-and-generations-fade/

And a final closing note- young Sawyer’s little brother is due to arrive any day now.

Can’t wait to meet him.

Shadow People – When the Lineage Merges and Generations Fade

Shadow People – When the Lineage Merges and Generations Fade. It’s rather easy to look back, to be the receiver and say that “she contributed this, he offered that.” And then children emerge, and very soon you can sense it all begin to flow away, of everything beginning to pass.

When small, there’s a sense of “mine” in one’s children — “my son, my daughter.” But this is a terrible illusion.

In fact, we are theirs.

As Persian Poet Khalil Gibran said in his remarkable poem, “On Children,

“…their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.” https://poets.org/poem/children-1

But a downstream lineage requires an injection – a partner, a husband, a wife to be inserted into this stream so it can flow onward. And right there begins the obsolescence. Suddenly it’s apparent that you no longer matter quite so much, even it takes time for this to sink in,

that you’re rapidly becoming little more than an old story

someone your child might recall years from now

and, if you’ve been very fortunate,

smile.

And while this is natural, it does bring with it the opportunity to love in a completely different way. This is not the love born of biology, nor is it a love shaped from an accumulated lifetime of shared experiences.

This is a love born of learning, of tolerating (in both directions, of course,) of getting to know, of bumping against each other, of embracing, of creating new shared experiences, and ultimately, heaven willing, of standing together to support the launch of the next generation.

Lineage. True Lineage.

And Gratitude.

the downstream begins

shadow people


they begin as shadow people
two-dimensional, replaceable
appearing only for a moment 
then fading, leaving only a name 
a story to be laughed about 
over dinner 

translucent satellites
in temporary orbit around this child
you’ve birthed and fed, the one
you’ve poured your life into, saw fall 
and stand again, then mature into the rich 

three-dimensional life you see before you 
who one day brings home another 
and suddenly you sense 
that this just might be 

“the one” 

the one that takes root in the rich soil 
of your son, the one he now turns to 
before you, the one who clearly holds all 
of his new secrets, the one who’s ear hears 
all of his dreams

and though you try to be happy for him 
and for “them” 

you can already feel yourself 
beginning to thin, to lighten, to lift 
ever so slightly above the floor 

where they now stand together 

can feel yourself darkening 
and spreading up the long wall 
as the sun drops low in the sky 
stretching the day’s last shadows 

which even now are beginning to fade 
as day inevitably progresses 

into night


In case you missed it, here’s a link to the Sixth Lineage Poem – This Father’s Imperfect Love: https://oldbonesnewsnow.com/2022/03/01/this-fathers-imperfect-love-sixth-lineage-poem/