Chopping Winter Wood

Last night

Brought a frost,

A coating of crystalline white

Drying the air, stiffening every leaf,

Crisping every damp thing,

Stilling all life

But for the sparrows.

Into this

Plooms my breath,

Brought momentarily

From the invisible;

I feel wonder at the breadth

And reach

Of the ether if my being.

I select a log,

Choosing one with flawless grain,

Straight lines, unknotted,

Placing it upright.

I lift the axe, aim

Half heft and half let it fall.

If it is true

My kindling spilts with a snap

Akin to the most beautiful synchronicity,

The grain parting

As if only a thought’s worth

Cleaved it separate

And clean.

I cut more,

And while I swing my axe

And watch my basket fill

With rough cut pieces,

I listen to the sparrows

And the stillness,

Enjoying my breath

Realising wintery all about me.

Who Is The Leaf?

Leaves drawn of their vigour

Yellow in the chill light

And flutter down

With each stroke of the breeze.

Dying is a beautiful thing

When life’s sap is safe,

Eternal

In the trunk and the root,

Withdrawn from the world

Like an in-breath

Or tide, or season’s

Planetary oscillation.

Who grieves the leaf

Its turning or its loosening

On the branch,

Or its earthward mulch

Settling into new form?

No one grieves,

For the life in the leaf

Is not gone

But hides behind bark,

Gathers against the darkness

Of the shrinking wintery days,

And awaits the pull of the sun

And the soil’s warming

And the osmotic urge

To express itself again,

And again, and yet again.

The Morning Is Crisp

On the first crisp autumn day

Dazzling light from the low sun

Guilds the forest,

Burnishing every leaf.

In hollows

There is the shadow of frost,

Grasses jacketed stiff,

But in the open

The sky is clean

And the distant rolling hills

Seem magnified.

After coffee sipped

With the sun’s hand on my back,

I amble through the farm shop

Selecting delicious items,

And while paying for my goods

A conversation spontaneously happens.

Like two old friends

Exchanging intimacies,

The shop assistant speaks

And I listen.

We share our truth

And as I look into their eyes

I see wisdom

Deep in their seeing,

As if the autumn light

Came from understanding

As much as from the sun outside,

And I am warmed

And touched by the moment

And brought wholly into the now,

An openness without resistance.

Picture

In the floor to ceiling window

Opens the picture:

The river

Glassy with the sky,

Smudged with autumn morning,

A pale blue glaze

In which mists cling

And spiral,

Calling back

The chill night

That stilled the dew drops

To a crust

And freed the tattered leaves

To mulch beneath the trees,

Sending out

A sweet and heady breath

Of spores

As life withdraws,

Releasing jealousies,

Indifferent now

To the russet matter

Discarded.

The Blazing Heart

Perhaps you forgot

The searing light,

Buried it

In low-mood thoughts

And reason

As heavy as chains.

Oh, yes, you say,

Give me the nicotine of thought

And worldly misadventure.

Let me overlook my overlooking,

Let me ignore my ignorance

And dwell outside myself

In a swirl of worries,

While the light is left unacknowledged.

Instead,

Remember, not the cold intellectual light

And the optics of the brain,

But the warm body of love

Inside yourself.

Remember the needless state

Where the heart floats

On ethers,

And worries are nothings,

Neither fears, nor even yours.

Remember the you

Before the you

Who carried the weight of living,

The unfettered you

Buoyant and watching,

Alive in the now

From which all springs forth.

Remember the sun of love

Blazing in your heart,

Remember remembering,

And the knowing

That the heart has always, always burned,

Is never dulled

And will never ever grow dark.

The Looking Of You

There is a looking,

A looking into yourself

Where the eyes

Become ever wide.

Ever and ever wider

Grows seeing

As though astonishment

Were limitless,

And what the self is

Is no less

Than all.

And yet there is greater seeing

And wider eyes,

As astonishment

Is refreshed with each

Step into yourself,

Each looking wider still,

Seeing drawn into

An infinite expansion

Into seeing itself.

Ever wider sees the I

Behind the eyes,

Ever wider

Becomes the I.

Untethered

I hold my opinion

As you hold yours:

A collection of ideas

Raised on the twists and turns of our lives:

Individually accrued

And shaped into a weave

That we wear like coat:

A personality,

An identity,

Who we are, perhaps?

Can you be loose

With the luggage of the self,

This weightless stuff

Made of weightless thoughts

And thoughts amalgamated into belief?

How real it appears

How solid it seems

As if the weightless thoughts

And invisible ideas

Made something tangible,

A thing, actually there in the world.

Better to be loose

With opinion.

Better to see it

As merely a point of view

Among eight billion,

No more or less valid

Than the next,

No more or less serious

Or stupid or laughable.

Better it drift off in the wind

Better it evaporate under sunshine

Better it be like a friendly shadow

Whom you love

Despite its ignorance.

Be free unimportant opinion

Who I held so close,

Be free

Here in me,

For I see you small

And light and fragrant

And harmless,

A nothing who might alight

My indifference

And flit there unworried,

Restful for being wholly untethered.

The Nectar

Already by 10 AM the sun is merciless

But the birds are twittering

Under the shade of leaves,

Cool in the undergrowth.

Sounds arrive in the garden

Brought by a breeze:

Cars swishing in the distance,

Workers on scaffolding

Laying tiles,

A child cries out

After its mother:

Just everyday happenings

Of a suburb in a town in the summer.

As I sit, hearing the world,

Brought the waft of honeysuckle

And jasmine flowers

Generous and comforting,

I realise

That I am here

And I am now,

And that life is perfect

As the buddlier flowers’

Drooping purple spires

On which the bees drink thirstily,

And butterflies flit,

Their tongues unfurled

Tasting the world,

Sipping at the nectar of it.

The Fluid Of The Air

There were downpours last night,

The patter of swollen drops

On leaves and the absorbent earth.

The guttering dripped intermittently

And sung me back to sleep.

This morning, when I step outside,

The garden accepts me

Inside itself,

Merges me wholly

With the rain-heavy air,

Easy on the breath

And dampening like a sodden blanket.

Bird calls are shrill in the moistness

As if the lubricated air

Conveyed sound more easily.

The separation between things

Is altered and healed

As though my senses,

Conducted by the closeness of molecules,

Reach far beyond

What I might call the body.

Where once there was dry air, the sky,

And things existing in it,

Now there is one fluid medium

Where all things touch.

The boundaries of bark and stem,

Feathered skin or the insects chitinous

Exoskeleton are as porous

As the canopy of the overarching tree.

And the osmosis between

Is a luxuriant movement,

Energy’s transient enquiry,

Unconcerned by the names of things

And free to pass between,

Free to roam

A borderless and singular being.