I Am Withheld

The pines wave as if to reiterate that one cannot go back.

I want no grave, no headstone to chisel, no plot to purchase or pray to or protect. Yet dead authors call us to their bone yards, or so we think when the wind carries just right through the purpling hills of passing seasons.

One bottomless moment stretches from horizon to horizon. I can smell autumn's transition to sterility. Damp pavement to decaying leaves to woodsmoke to nothing.

To meander around the banks of a riverbed, following the rise and fall of whatever the land has to offer, is to feel something. It is to love more than the mind allows. One could even forget to ask why.

Have I been distracted by teachers this whole time? It is so easy to say that the world is bound and suffering. But then words and images arrive to point towards a beauty and freedom – a moment to moment reckoning of dark and light. Yet we do not trust them! No, not “we”; it is I who does not trust.

I saw the photograph of myself and did not recognize the woman. This and other ways I am withheld. In my dream, we were at Mass together in a long oaken pew. We recited the prayers from our childhood, word for word in sync. But behind the words, we offered up the fullness of the universe with our eyes. A smiling nun. The disrobed priest. How the steeple claims the view!

Night plunges all at once, and so light huddles in houses and bakeries and workshops. Ginger snaps and chamomile tea. The impermanence of consumption can linger warmly in the mouth. Maybe that's what happens when I'm brought to my knees.