Sunday, October 24, 2010

Visiting the Graveyard

When I think of death

It is a bright enough city,

And every year more faces there

Are familiar

But not a single one

Notices me,

Though I long for it,

And when they talk together,

Which they do

Very quietly,

It’s in an unknowable language-

I can catch the tone

But understand not a single word-

And when I open my eyes

There’s the mysterious field, the beautiful trees.

There are the stones.

In the silence of this retreat I hear death speaking to me. There’s the creak in my knees as I unfold my legs again and again, rising and falling into the sitting cushion. The wind in the Spanish Moss whispers of times past and times yet to come. The clank of dishes, the cough, the sigh, the bell, the clapper, and my own urine splash and tinkle in the bathroom, all these death and life. The chickadee, perky with her dark cap, won’t be alive in a few more years, so short this species’ span of life. But now I hear her high in the oak, already dead before she hatched. I wish I could speak this language. So I sit, I strain, I listen. After each mediation I open my eyes. I see the beautiful tree, a grave marker on my heart, breaking it open, weighing me down with stones, until I am so deep in the earth that I am one with all.

Where and how does the language of death come to you?

1 comment:

  1. I think of death with this time of year. Some of my favorite plants are dying. Some are just dying back to a main stalk or root and will be back next spring. At night the big harvest moon glows through the branches of my woods, leaving shadows of knarled limbs. Sometimes my limbs feel knarled, too. The stained glass piece of a humingbird which my sister made for me is bordered by prisms. During the day those prisms leave rainbows on my floor and comforter. But at night they just distort the shadows when the trees sway in the wind. There is a new batch of baby squirrels that have retreated to their mother's nest. She probably won't be here next year. Will the babies be able to buid a nest from instinct? When I see a dead baby squirrel on the road, I wonder if it was one that was just yesterday eating acorns in my driveway. As for me, I lay in a soft warm bed and change my thoughts by closing my eyes and pulling the comforter up a little higher.