Heartwork

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In recognition of World Aides Day, the following poem was written about John Fletcher Harris who lived in NYC. He died 25 ears ago today. Dec. 5, 1990.
I took care of him in the hospital the last month of his life. While his father would not come over to see him before he died, as he could not cope with John being gay, he never saw the huge light that John was for so many. His ashes are in Glastonbury.

Heartwork
And so I came to where you did your spirit’s work.
We did not speak, but I sat in your circle week after week.
You were mysterious to me.

And I would go home to the skies of late fall
And watch the shadows change from under my
warm sweater and steamy coffee and hazelnut liqueur.
The air smelled sweet-the time was safe.

One day you walked across the room.
You were not alone-you were not alone.
I saw the silent sigil of death that walked behind you.
You were in two worlds at once-and
the air parted to let you through.

And then there was voice on the phone.
“Go to the hospital. He is there.”
I was catapulted fast, so fire burning fast
that I had no choice but to follow its flame.
I saw the cold tiled floor and heard the
relentless clicking and churning of the machines.

I walk into your room and you are asleep.
You are asleep in your frailty, in your anger, in your pain
in a sterile white bed.
You sink into the middle: it surrounds you.
You look like a long, thin wavering line.
But your presence is strong-even then.
Are you traveling in your sleep-
time across the universe?
No, not yet.
We have work to do, you and I.

I put my hands around you.
I feel your heart and see where you are.
You know I am here.
And I begin to know you-
through my hands, through my heart.
These were the tools I had for you.
I began to know your pain and terror,
But I also learned your beauty and love.
You echoed in my heart in the most endless way.

It is twilight, darkness is coming.
This is not the comforting time of home-
This is not safe.
This twilight is of bold transition.
It moves the day to night with swift strides:
A tidal wave of shadows tumble in against the moon.

Our time was about our deepening connection
That was a step towards completion.
The fact of death, the process of dying shows us our frailty,
but also makes us find our strength.
Your heart lay upon my heart and beckoned me.
Your soul was the object of my vision.
For me your dying was to learn that vision.
For you it was a last lesson of love.

There is a certain rhythm to being.
It is a silent current in the earth: in our souls.
It is subterranean wet.
And when we reach it, we can ride its moist power-
Be surrounded by its waving, undulating pulse.
This is where the knowing is.
This is what we listen to deeply.
The language of the earth is time.
The language of the divine is love.
They intersect, they intertwine.

The day you were ready to leave I was in my kitchen.
You stood impatient-you were ready.
On the train the rhythm of the wheels felt like the beating of your heart.
My heart joined yours for one last time.
It grew luminous and multi-colored-the air was thick.
Time was culminating in a cascade of pulsing breaths.
We would ride them together until you could go alone.
I felt your moving to death around me like a wrapping from centuries ago.
It had the smell of time.
It had the feeling of grace.
It had the rumble of thunder.

I came to you.
A tear rolled down your cheek.
We looked toward each other one last time.
I saw you through the light-just a little way
And touched you one last time.
And then the air became sweet and the time felt safe.

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