To Be Like Water

More stone than sea
I’d be like water,
touched by wind,
loved by the moon.

 

I’d dwell in deep canyons,
travel the furthest reach,
and beyond sight of land
be the ocean that shapes your grief

 

in a curling wave
of foam and sunlight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “To Be Like Water” with music by Tinariwen.

 


To Beauty Let Go

“It is the nature of stone
to be satisfied.
It is the nature of water
to want to be somewhere else.”
– Mary Oliver

 

We walked on windswept dunes,
over flower-strewn meadows
where the sound of birds
and flowing creeks
gave the air its beauty.

 

You asked “what is the meaning”
and with you I remembered
that beauty is its own meaning,
and it is for beauty that we have come,
and for beauty that we lie down,
and for beauty that we hunger
and do not rest.
And when we rest it is for beauty
for that is our nature.

 

The way sandstone
folds around us,
the faces hidden
in the shapes and hollows.
The music of the sea
and the way the wind
rises in the trees
and sets the island atremble.

 

And again the why
and again the meaning,
on hummingbird’s wing,
starling’s flight
and the complaint of crow.

 

We see hands of the invisible
behind every leaf
as our bark sloughs off
and our bones slowly crumble.
We speak to the stars
and to them we drink deep.

 

We’re not afraid
of winter storms
and their terrible darkness,
of the fire ant’s bite
or smell of the tide.
Or the waves pitch and toss
that loosen our stomachs
as we ride out the sea
and the clouds as they smile.

 

Wherever you travelled
you changed the earth
by the gifts of your sight.
In debt to your shaping
when my time comes,
beauty I will remember
and to beauty let go.

 

 

photograph by Sandy Brown Jensen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “To Beauty I Let Go” with music by Snowy White.

 


When Leaves Burst Out

Look for me when leaves burst out
and voices of spring
ring full in the valley.

 

Follow the snow melt
along the Clackamas
and Long Tom rivers,

 

beside the Willamette
where wild flowers spread
and deer grow fat.

 

Where salmon run the Deschutes
and herds of elk
trek to higher ground,

 

the invisible hand
guides each creature,
and here with me

 

where the deep courses of spring
rouse the rivers of my heart.

 

 

photograph by Kadir Celep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “When Leaves Burst Out”

 


Noise of Flowers

Spring flowers rattle the caves,
provoking the apostles
to take up their pallets of sorrow
and leave dark comfort.

 

Trees hide in the rain,
fearing the cold; as crocus
and daffodils join the chorus
the noise of flowers disturbs my sleep.

 

Pulling on the coat of forgiveness
I stagger toward the light,
shocked into wakefulness
by plum tree flowers.

 

Wind-driven rain soaks the stone mountain,
ice bound rivers break from their bonds.
Trembling with cold I walk out on a ledge,
and look down into the valley of forgotten promise.

 

What can I do but leap from my refuge,
made bold once again by the flowers of spring.

 

 

photograph by Dennis Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Noise of Flowers” with music by Chet Baker.

 


Engineers of Love

The gravity of your smile,
lighthearted yet muscled
with the blessings of sorrow,
keeps my satellite in orbit,
my rage against the machine
tempered and refined.
Chasms of belief threaten us daily,
yet as engineers of love
we span the dark depths
with bridge after bridge,
exhausted but unbroken.
No steel and wire
of mechanical contrivance,
rather light-bodied filaments
constructed of cosmos,
tendrils of soul
that extend to the stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Engineers of Love” with music by Van Morrison.