Growing Older – Growing Younger

I was never young,
I always felt myself to be an old man
trapped in a young man’s body,
I always saw my hair gray
when it was pitch black,
I always felt the lines of old age
crisscrossing my young face,
and I always felt myself awkward and out of tune
in places and with people
with whom I should’ve been most at ease.

Then how is it that now
as I grow older,
how is it that now
as my hair begins to whiten
and as my face and body
begin to change
I feel my spirit growing younger,
bustling with more energy and clarity
with each new day?

What strange fruit have I eaten
in my wanderings through the garden
of the spirit as I held your hand
O philosophy?
What strange garden have I cultivated
that I am now standing on my own head?
Growing youthful as I grow older
in an inverse order —
ah the uncanny feeling!
how strange! how beautiful!
and how right it feels!
as if a god has taken my body for his lodging
and has taken my body for a spin
on the pathways of life and love,
knocking on the doors
of the broken and the beautiful,
the difficult and the tempting,
teasing and challenging me
and throwing me out and into the cauldron of fire
and with each footstep
binding me to heed
the deep call of eternity.

The Turn

Unable to find you
out in the world
I turned inward
to the source
of incompletion and ache
and found that my heart
in its reckless longing
was erecting itself
as a temple
with your light for its pillars,
with your love
an unshakable fountain of joy
revolving in its center.

I turned inward
but then, marvelous inversion!
your light flowed out
and etched itself
into the fiber of the world.

Where are you now?
A fluid motion
moving all around,
a moving ocean
without edges or shores
hovering nimbus
over the entire creation,
sweeping it in its onrush
to the center of the soul.

Who are you now?
All the names
that ever went down in history
and all the names
that fell out,
forgotten and unknown,
you are the source of naming itself,
and the hover of silence
in the secret heart of dawn.

Bringing me Home

You live in me
as that which gives the diamond
its sheen,
as the radiance inside
the rays of sunlight,
as the secret unfolding
in the blue hush of dawn.

You live in me
but how
it cannot be said,
and as these metaphors
try to utter your how
my heart implodes
with a spaciousness
the entire universe
cannot begin to fill.

You live in me
in a way I cannot reason
or explain,
in a way I can only fathom
by opening up to you
and drinking the beauty and the pain
of my surrender.

You live in me
and through your living
I realize how everything in you
is an eternal beginning,
that life is a flowering spring
even in the midst of winter and death,
even in the throes of shattering of loss.

Long ago
your absence whispered in my ear
and my heart
became an altar of longing
burning with the oil
of your secret:
in you everything is completed,
in you the circle is full.

So abandon me
and let the pain of your abandonment
cut deepest into my skin,
for that is how you push the seed in me
through the soil of your garden,
awakening me to your light
and bringing me home.

Tanka # 73

The silent echo
of their hooves —
spring clouds
like white horsemen
rolling down the hills


Teach me
how to live again,
by the cemeteries
in ignorant bliss
a child playing.

Remember how, as kids, we used to go play by the cemeteries where you’re now buried? We never thought then that either of us could lay in that place. And we went there often, with mom to pray in that small church by the cemeteries, to gather nuts from under the nearby trees in late summer. We went there when we got older, with friends, late at night, starting bonfires and drinking beer. We went there to have picnics and swim up the river, past the cemeteries and under the sycamores. How do I reconcile myself with the fact that you’re now there, forever, in that place that is so intimately entwined with the images of our childhood? How do I reconcile myself with life again knowing that I’m forever deprived from your presence? How, Sarah, how?

Living With Faith

Even in old age,
Even when you know
You’re dying,
Live as if tomorrow
Belongs to you
And is yours to live
To the fullest,
Live with that faith
For tomorrow
Lovers will still love
And you will be there
In their belonging,
Birds will keep singing
And you will be their song of praise,
Children will still laugh
And you will dwell
In their innocent play,
For life does not abandon you
Even as she draws
Her last breath from you
And pulls you down
From the stage.