Caught

IMG_4866 Sunrays

 

if fishing is what lifts up your heart, then fishing is your prayer

            — Brother David Steindl-Rast

 

caught

 

between these mountains

we are held by the sky

the way fish are held by the river

 

this morning, the sun

broke the surface of the clouds

casting extravagant rainbows into space

 

it was all I could do to keep from leaping

for the simple joy of it, tail-dancing

across the valley floor, gills flapping

 

striking up and out toward heaven

taking the bait completely, caught

by this implausibly beautiful world

 

hook, line and sinker

 

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

 

 

beyond reason

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beyond reason

 

the arthritic fingers of winter are relentless,

crushing into ice in the dark

all that had dared to soften

in the light of lengthening day.

 

pain and release, punishment

and care — each

are necessary.

 

we could never have designed this,

these alternating forces shaping the hands

that sculpt this world

 

into a beauty beyond intellect

 

into a heaven beyond reason.

 

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

alone in the dark

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alone in the dark

 

alone in the dark, waiting for the moon.

tonight, she leans in close

carefully parting the clouds, and says here,

hold this, I’ve brought you a small piece

of the sun as comfort against the night.

 

trust the light, she says, trust this moon

and these transcendent stars.

trust the return of the sun and the coming of dawn.

trust in the eventual dissolution of despair,

and the inevitable reawakening

of your own vast and radiant human heart.

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

 

Isolation

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Isolation

(a partial inventory of things for which I grieve

in this time of pandemic)

 

Hugs and hands and friendly kisses.

A bar of soap in the dish, unremarkable and dry.

Going out to breakfast, pancakes and eggs, bacon

chatting with the waitress while waiting for you.

Driving to a meeting in town, boring, endless,

ordinary. College basketball. Baseball season.

Missing easy shots in tennis and losing my cool,

as if it mattered. Golden mornings passed

in silent meditation, my feet cold

on retreat, loving and being loved,

the soft sound of all of us breathing together,

as if it mattered. Being cold, being hot, wind,

rain, snow and sunburn. Sacred places,

Yosemite, The Grand Canyon, Dolomiti skies.

Cinque Torri at sunset, then again at dawn.

Parisian museums. Parisian meals. Parisian coffee.

Paris.

Venice in the morning. Eating gelato in Rome.

Eating more gelato in Rome.

Aging simply but still feeling young.

Not being classified as vulnerable.

Not being classified.

Not needing to sanitize the keys in order to loan the car

to my son. Seeing my sons. Holding them.

Seeing my infant granddaughter. Holding her

even if it still makes her cry.

The illusion of safety.

The familiar smell of my personal cocoon.

Never having to consider case counts, respirators

or exponential curves.

Believing myself to be harmless to others (or mainly so.)

Belief in a particular future.

The future.

The freedom to ignore a simple cough.

Taking a single breath for granted.

Believing that time is continuous, endless and free.

Ignorance of the gray man stalking the streets

counting breaths.

A committed belief in Death

as an abstraction.

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

leave the way you came

I’ve come to feel that we’re not truly isolated as long as we’re in the company of trees

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leave the way you came

 

early sun on old snow, the wind

speaking in the high trees — welcome

 

move slowly in stillness — listen

completely.  carry only respect

 

and reverence.  leave

the way you came

 

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© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

one last chance

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walking empty streets

in a late season snow, alone — where

have we all gone? what in heaven’s name

have we done?

 

this unnatural natural

silence, the distant cry of geese

returning, desperate for a place

to land

 

a single light in a room at the back

goes dark, while the herd comes down

from the mountains, begins to reclaim

its place. fitfully

 

we sleep and dream of morning

breathing our wordless prayers

 

for warmth

for the resurrection of spring

for a second new covenant

for one last chance

 

to do better

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

 

Attending the Breath

 

SLC Sunrise

 

attending the breath

in the first grey light

of this winter morning

 

the sound of the wind

through the glass, this wind

 

that was blowing

before breath arose, this wind

 

that was blowing

before thought arose, this wind

 

that will blow long

after the very last thought

has blown away

 

 

© 2019 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

 

laughter and tears

oldbones

 

laughter and tears

 

we were once shiny, undented.

had baby after baby with limitless

perfect futures. we had answers, speed

and never enough time. we

were accelerating. last night

fall came to this mountain,

the face of the grey man

peering through the glass. this morning

we sit beneath a weakening sun

the leaves blowing about our feet

like so many small broken things.

your hand is warm in mine, and just so

am I blessed — so little survives

beyond laughter and tears.

darkness falls.

the trees across the river

draw down their blood in silence,

brace themselves for winter.

 

© 2019 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

 

the women tell me

Crab

 

 

the women tell me

there is soon to be a baby.

 

I remember calling my brother

upon the birth of my oldest son.

both of our parents were dead,

and I needed to tell someone — he,

however, seemed unimpressed.

 

I see this son now grown, bearded

and strong, busy planning their lives together,

as if such a thing were possible.

 

I can almost feel the life force drifting

like pollen from our branches to theirs,

calling forth small, green buds, the sap

beginning to rise.

 

the flowering crab in the yard

holds dark, withered fruit fermenting slowly

under a weak winter sun, when a solitary robin,

who should have gone south months ago,

brushes the snow from the branches

and gorges himself on the hard, bitter fruit.

 

eventually, he grows drunk, drops into flight,

and spinning once in midair, flies straight

into the darkened glass of the window,

then drops to the ground like a stone.

 

so many deaths

caused by mistaking reflections

for truth, by confusing images

with the unyielding surfaces of life.

 

the women tell me

there is soon to be a baby.

and we shall welcome her

with indescribable joy. we

will surely be impressed.

 

we will do our best

to hold her safe, to teach her to see.

we will stand with her by the window

and watch the comings and goings of birds.

 

perhaps, she will smile and laugh with the birds.

perhaps, with time, she will come to love

these hollow-boned, fragile,

exquisitely mortal, impossible birds.

 

perhaps, with time,

she might even be the one

who teaches us all how to fly.