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.
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.
Here is the original posting of my column- An A-musing Life- in Vermont Views- a great online magazine
Draped in Time
The trees begin to rustle. I change the ringtone on my phone to the Bewitched theme. Their leaves become brilliant with color. I get out the orange, purple and green bat mug. They crackle as they are tossed about by the autumn wind. The outside decorations sway their come hither dance in the October bluster.
The sun leaves earlier than many would like. The warmth has become illusive, although still shows itself in snippets. The last of the summer crops are foraged by hands still lustful for the past season.
But for others, this is the widening of the earth’s soul. It is a time of rising depth and deep inhalations of an expanse of spirit. The winds sing in the key of mysterium mundi.
This is the short and shifting time of year that walks toward winter quickly. Transitions are powerful. They rearrange and set the stage for what is to come. They demand you go with their will, or you are be left on your own. This transition’s beauty is soul searing. The verdant scent of the leaves and plants as they begin to make their way inward toward the earth fills the air and dances with the smoke of newly awakened wood-stoves. I love this rich and moist aroma. It coats my fingers and I feel it seep deep within my spirit. It takes me inside myself, just as it takes itself deep within the ground. It is lush with the changing of the season.
This is also the only time I am drawn to read the French Symbolist poets. How can one resist:
“Towards a sky softened by pure and pale October
That reflects its infinite languor in great formal pools
And deigns, on the stagnant water where the tawny agony…” Sigh by Stéphane Mallarmé
You get the gist, oui?
This is the turning time, when for a few nights, the veil between the worlds is open. It reveals the other side so we can take a peek behind the curtain. When we hear flapping in the night that swooshes us out of safe sleep; is it a night critter on the forage, or is it this veil fretting for us to look to the beyond?
Okay, so what is Halloween, or for some of us Samhain, all about? Let’s get the easy answers out of the way. It is a commercialized day that puts nothing but pressure on kids and parents, much like Valentine’s Day. It is when nerds, apparently the new cool, get to become their sci-fi alter egos, or as they may say, to be ironic; although I think that is more of hipster stance. It is also when there are way too many ads for insulting costumes for women as sexualized whatevers and anythings.
I must say, as someone who adheres to the spiritual aspect of the day, All Souls Day- which is the reworked takeover of a holy day that was not going to be wrested from the heathen heart- makes me smile a tad. I just had a thought! How about a new restaurant called ‘The Heathen’s Heart’-food for the soul and the stomach. It would be done up with lots of curtains that open to the various nether regions of the beyond-aka- eatery of mood environs; a sort of Dante’s Inferno, but with candy corn and a bit more fun, and velvet, lots of velvet. But I digress.
This is the spell of measure that offers a vantage point of the past, present and future within a shared point of time. It is a place to reflect and vision and to take honest stock of where you have been, where you are and where you want to go. Invite your ancestors and helping spirits, who may just be waiting by their cauldrons stirring their otherworldly chicken soup, to guide and inspire you. Don’t be shy. Velvet is soft and their hearts are warm.
Muse, reader, on this wind.
Muse, reader, on this time that holds the turning.
It can catch your soul as quickly as it can catch your eye.
And for crying out loud, let yourself eat some goodies.
Trick or Treat
Blessed Be to all.
Here is the original posting of my column- a great online magazine
A Penne for Your Thoughts
Oh great bowl of pasta that shines like a buttery heaven. It glistens with abandon. Little sparks of sunlight cheese roam about the grainy goodness to add some depth. This is the secret; a smattering of micro-planed hard cheese. Oh, the sheer fun of holding the wedge tempered to the room. Having lost its chill, it fits in her hand like it was carved by an angel. The cheese sings in soft timbre against the grater. The dulcet tone of tap, tap, tap. She gently pushes the last bits of tendrils that remain attached to the metal, like a chad, but much more holy. Her fingers, lovingly filled with anticipation, release their grip. The hard cheese floats softly down, deftly finding its place on the awaiting deliciousness.
Their tongues stand in anticipatory glee. They are on the precipice of joy. The scent of steamy sweet of flour, butter and cheese opens their hearts. Oh, the way it makes them feel; like all is well with the world. There is a unifying, cohesive awareness when you realize that many others, those of your cookery tribe, will intone the slurpy goodness as one. All revel, in the taste gently cascading down their throats like sweet nectar of the gods as it swirls around their mouths. It is like dining with the deities.
Pasta is the flour of fun, the laughter of the soul. So many search deeply to experience this joy. How they shine with fullness as the cheese and butter fills them with inner spirited glow. This is the ultimate concern of roving moment. The immediacy and the everlasting become entwined. They meet and all rest in this cosmic unfoldment of truth and eternal harmony. Their spirits join in the great trinity of their hearts. Their souls are now on the path of completion. They inhale the luxuriant fragrance, like a holy rose, they rumi-nate on life. They are at their highest in themselves and group. How abundant is the world in all things-flour, even those without gluten. How it holds the sauce and nurtures it toward one’s feelings of satiety and sureness of glycemic footstep.
They become one with the breath of time. Oh, that glorious exhalation of the divine. This eatery of the repast they enter is one built of connection, joined commitment and path-work of the higher realms. This is not a place constrained by concrete and engineered plans. This is built this with intention, creativity and intuition.
Pasta flour sets the gastronomic table. But when it is dredged into suffocating form, the welcoming sheen of our dishes dull and tablecloths droop.
What true epicurean could like being boxed in rigid name and use? They tell you what to cook. They tell you how to cook it. They tell you with what you can eat it. They do not let you think. You are not allowed to create. Just follow the directions like it is the sacred writ of cookery: a doctrine of cartonology, if you will. All are constrained and held back from true sensual delight. Their foodie spirits are squashed. Enchantment and wonder cannot thrive because of obligation to strict adherence to the scribed words of recipe. They are a restraining package that directs the way to the pot and bowl like a blind horse that is pulled to water.
Angel hair in a box? Talk about a no fly zone. Alphabet ‘noodles’ spell out “no escape”. What comes up in the spoon from the soupy lagoon is what you get to read. Ravioli is enclosed and has room for nothing else. It hides the truth of what is inside. It takes the unlit leap of faith to apprehend what it holds in its grip. Rotelle wheels turn but are burdened with the heft of the spokes of a doctrine hindered by false sense of savory correctness.
As so many others, those who follow this way, sit in the same chairs around the same table as those before them, and eons before them. Their experience is predetermined, just as will be their futurelings. Oh, how restricting and flat. To use the same methods meal after meal is death to the soul. How can one truly feel the joy of eating when you are bound by the twines of the dogma of nourishment? The toppings, sliced and rasped with graters annealed with the bound generations of hard cheese; that solid and indigestible food made from milk, canon that declares the only way.
So what is left for one to do? Is it best to gather ingredients with wild relish and abandon and to sing the glorious notes of savoring the unbound passion of pasta? Should one taste in pedantic chew after chew the ways that started it all? To adhere to the missives and memorandums of the ancestral gourmands, who perchance knew that flour, with its many possibilities, first has to be ground?
Or perhaps, it is best to remember that life is just a gas.
Oh, there is this touch that is so ingrained.
Every line a familiar path,
lush coolness deepened by time.
I reach toward you from a natural habit.
You, my refuge.
The breath of your spirit forms a canopy over my heart.
The dappled sound of rain,
the whirling of wind,
the silence of snow.
Reflections of our seasons are the soft moss that I hold to my cheek.
Its scent of your endlessness soothes,
is a solace to my spirit.
And your eyes,
so moist with time,
is a balm to my soul.
My hands will remember you,
always through my tears.
Are they now just two words that have become one,
Like a sigil that’s power has been left to decay.
Are they now just two numbers divided by a line,
like a before and after ad for something that will fix your life.
It was a bright-sky day that became plundered,
like the many other days that share those sounds.
Is this nomenclature of that space of time now lodged in the common tongue?
It is sparse, yet contains the inhaled breath of the moment’s realization,
as we move away, around, forward and backward in search of direction.
We have become the word masters who use each letter as a tincture
to assuage the cell deep memories that underlay the pain and incredulous eyes
as water that remains fluid under ice.
But there are some whose time is still filled with the smoky light that calls its presence forth.
Some lives are dappled by its timbre,
Like the bells that flail their yearly toll.