Questioning The Beach

My eyes are closed,

And in that seeing

Waves wash the beach clean.

I can hear them

Arriving,

Surging and falling away.

A salt laden breeze caresses my skin,

My T-shirt flapping gently;

The air is warm as a polished stone

Rounded to a pebble over eons.

Who am I

Who perceives the beach flies,

The waves disintegrating,

The claiming shadow

Beneath the outcrop

Of crumbling strata.

Who am I

On the other end of the world,

Sensing through the body’s

Fine and tangible medium?

Perhaps sensing is a sea-ragged rope,

One end anchored

In the matter

Of things so various,

The multitude names

By which the whole us spliced.

But the other end

Where the mind cannot go,

Where it peters out,

What is that?

If I tug upon that rope,

Draw myself

In the directionless direction

To the seabed of my self,

Who will I find

Dwelling deeper than depth?

Who sees from the ocean of being?

Who is

Where silence is?

Who knows

The creation,

Blessed to my ears,

Broken as wavelets

Rolling over stones,

And saltiness powdery on my skin?

Who is

In this,

Who is?

A Bright New Day

Chittering wrens

Pick from the larder of cones

Clutched in the pine-brush

And absorb the awakening light.

Beneath, I sit and ponder

On the nature of being.

Some would speak of mankind

Separate from reality,

Somehow living above it all.

Yet, I am moved

Upon the turning of the world

In season’s gentle shift

Of early beginnings

And day pushed into night.

Surely this body,

As all walking free,

Feels the thrust of life

In the burst of the bud,

Unopened but profoundly expectant.

Surely all are moved

By the first warm breeze

Tickling the pine needles above.

Who is really alone

When life thrums

Through the body’s instrument,

When the very moon

Sways the water of our moods

And the constitution of our minds,

And new light shines,

Drawing us out

To sit absorbing

Like the first insect

Roused from hibernation’s

Torpid sleep?

Morning Stillness

Stillness settled with the night

And did not leave,

And now a windless, blue sky

Brims with spaciousness.

Birds, twittering in the skeletal trees

Dissect the quiet, but not the stillness,

Their tongue’s music

Is the sharp edge

Of reality.

I lean against a wall

Bathed in fresh light.

Things happen in the stillness:

A car passes,

A faraway motorbike on a faraway road,

Blunter than the birds,

A squeal of a refuse truck, ever hungry.

But the stillness remains,

Deeper and more broad

Than the mind can conceive,

Deeper and more broad,

And deeper still.

The tree, standing elegantly tall

Knows the stillness intimately.

It stands beside me, thrumming

With a soundless resonance.

In the patch of sunlight

I lean against the wall,

Listening to the birds,

Knowing that stillness.

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.