Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hurt birds (on the politics of blame)

I wake from a dream in which small birds are fluttering into my hands.  They are the size of finches, but coloured in blues and rusts and creams, as if they were swallows. I place each bird on a scarred round wooden table beneath a tall window and they gather in a huddle. It is cold. We seem to be at one end of a large library: musty volumes line the walls and the space is hushed and dark. Outside, it is winter, and bare branches scratch at the window. One detail stays with me as I wake--just before setting down each bird, I pluck a few feathers from its wings.  This seems to frighten them, and hurt them; I do not know why I do it. Waking more fully, I realize that the cat is asleep on my chest. This has happened to me before--am I having her dreams again? She lifts her head and blinks at me.

No, let me own my own cruelty. I should not blame it on the cat.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

When at first you set out

When at first you set out, your feet do not know where the road will go, or how.

The head thinks it knows, but it may not.

(After all, in the thick of winter, the leaves were supposed to have loosened, to have fallen. What then of such insubstantial strength, such golden light?)

Who can explain our brittlest survivals? Or the beauty of ice, in a broken space?
It befalls us: inessential, necessary, ordinary--as uncomfortable as prayer. 
What is the meaning of life?
Why are only some days full of light? 

For those of us already living, what matters in a new year is to perdure, to endure--there is no experience without an undergoing,  without perseverance, without suffering.

Lightening struck, we stagger, try to be like that tree that groaning, still stands.
Noble beyond reckoning. Beautiful in every cracked and shattered limb.

All hope is here: not in what is absolutely new, but in what there is to learn from those who carry on, blind as we all are, but abiding, open-hearted.