my birthday present

my birthday present
My awesome birthday present 1/26/11 (see story under my first post)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Journey

The Journey
David Whyte

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again

Painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
inscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

small, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes of your life.

You are not leaving
you are arriving.
~ David Whyte ~

(House of Belonging)

I have been reading/listening  to  several books by David Whyte and am very impressed with his poetry and philosophy .  I selected his poetry this week because I just saw on his web page that he is going to appear at Mercyhurst College in Erie on Sunday, March 27.  I would love to go hear him, so here's a heads up if anyone cares to join me.
As I approach 60, I become more conscious of the diminishing time I have to accomplish that nagging desire, which has always been a part of me, to do something that will make a difference in the world. Even more worrisome than the passing of time, is the sense that the  vision of what that something  may be is becoming more elusive and unclear. I find myself hoping  the “one line already written inside of me” will reveal itself  in the “great sky” of poetry.  I tell myself that may be wishful thinking, then I come across this poem, also by David Whyte, that offers reassurance.

The Lightest Touch 
Good poetry begins with
the lightest touch,
a breeze arriving from nowhere,
a whispered healing arrival,
a word in your ear,
a settling into things,
then like a hand in the dark
it arrests the whole body,
steeling you for revelation.

In the silence that follows
a great line
you can feel Lazarus
deep inside
even the laziest, most deathly afraid
part of you,
lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

~ David Whyte ~
from Everything is Waiting for You

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Our First Poem

One or Two Things
                   by Mary Oliver

Don’t bother me.
I’ve just
been born.

The butterfly’s loping flight
carries it through the country of the leaves
delicately, and well enough to get it
where it wants to go, wherever that is, stopping
here and there to fuzzle the damp throats
of flowers and the black mud; up
and down it swings, frenzied and aimless; and sometimes

for long delicious moments it is perfectly
lazy, riding motionless in the breeze on the soft stalk
of some ordinary flower.

The god of dirt
came up to me many times and said
so many wise and delectable things, I lay
on the grass listening
to his dog voice,
crow voice,
frog voice; now,
he said, and now,
and never once mentioned forever,

which has nevertheless always been,
like a sharp iron hoof,
at the center of my mind.

One or two things are all you need
to travel over the blue pond, over the deep
roughage of the trees and through the stiff
flowers of lightning — some deep
memory of pleasure, some cutting
knowledge of pain.

But to lift the hoof!
For that you need
an idea.

For years and years I struggled
just to love my life. And then

the butterfly
rose, weightless, in the wind.
“Don’t love your life
too much,” it said,

and vanished
into the world.

Dreamwork. Atlantic Monthy Press 1986

I love this poem. I told those of you who were at our WS meeting in February that I would choose a  poem by someone other than Mary Oliver....since we had focused entirely on her work that day.  But when I read One or Two Things I knew I needed to share it first. I feel I am speaking the first three lines. Poetry has given me a fresh start. The most powerful section for me is in part 3. I hear Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) speaking with the crow and  frog.
The day before my birthday (January 26), the above black swallowtail butterfly,  hatched on my windowsill. We had just gone through temperatures below zero and I have no logical explanation for how this miracle could occur. Her life was short, two days, but it was incredible to watch a butterfly flutter in my kitchen in the dead of winter.This poem is tribute to the butterfly who touched and amazed me with her life on my birthday.