There was a time that now
seems so very long ago, when I
would freely admit, sometimes claim
to be American, if not acknowledging
my time in the Air Force as well.
Those days are gone, as is the place
I knew, now morphed into somewhere
much the same, and entirely unrecognizable,
and I am American by proximity, knowing
my welcome has been worn out for me elsewhere.
It need not, ought not, have been this way,
political seas have long ebbed and flowed,
but I, we, knew we could remain afloat
on our constitutional raft, built to ride out
whatever storms might blow our way.
We know, or have an abiding hope that this,
that he and his band of marauders, will pass
into history, a dark cloud finally pushed aside,
but despite the shortness of his tenure,
I can only nervously wonder what will remain.
Last week it was hers
but we felt it ours, and wondered
why her furniture, her life
was impinging on this “our-ness.”
Today it is ours and empty,
and it has a deep sense
of “whose-ness,” where we can
see how easily “ours-ness” might return.
Next week it will be our home
and we will impose our us-ness on it
and it will bend to our will
as we will bend to its,
in the marriage will be complete.
This time when we move
the question could be asked,
are we moving to somewhere
or away from somewhere
or, you fear asking, away from someone.
That may be a truth left
unsaid, saying requires
an explanation, a ripping open
of a wound just scabbed over
or still raw around the edges.
And there is a hidden risk
in the question, for an honest
response might hold up a mirror,
one you never imagined might
show the world your face.
It may be that it is the right
time and the right place,
nothing more, so we offer that
and you may grasp it if you wish,
it might even be the truth,
but you’ll never know, will you?
It is odd, when you stop
and think about it, that
our sense of place is dictated
by places other then here.
For centuries we were the center
of the universe, and all
celestial bodies moved around
us — without us, no movement,
but if t here were no suns, moons,
planets or stars to see then we
ceased wholly to cosmically matter,
an unsettling state at best.
Now we know our little corner
of the galaxy, our planet, country,
our city, our neighborhood, our –
but what we don’t want to acknowledge
is that our requires not our, here
demands there, and we, as
history has repeatedly demonstrated,
requires they, which means you.
He always wanted to take
the scenic route home, it
didn’t matter if it took longer,
he probably preferred that
and he rarely commented on the scenery.
It was more that he didn’t want
to get where they were going
and the scenic route was guaranteed
to take longer and with luck
they’d get lost once or twice along the way.
He’d be fine when he got there,
it was about the arriving, and the leaving
both of which were abrupt, and abruption
carried with it the fear he would
never again find the peace of place.
The one thing that will drive him crazy
is a sign with a star, or square,
or anything that says “You Are Here.”
The one place he has never been,
will never be, is standing on a map.
He admits he may be nearby,
but here is out of the question.
He’s never really sure where he is,
but he is always here, even
if no one else can be.
He would like to go there
sometime, but he knows that even
if he makes the journey when he arrives
he will be still be exactly here,
so why waste the effort.
We greet as long lost friends,
having never before met
save sharing a place
a decade apart.
I strive to cling
to what was there
in that place, she,
fueled by the frustration,
has turned away
just because of it.
I go home to my words,
she to her art,
and we know
our paths will cross again.
Stand on the hill
and look into the valley.
Stand in the valley
and look upon the hill.
Do you see yourself
in either place, do you
see yourself in both
or are they one place
hidden from your vision.
A reflection on case 86 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
She imagines life
is much like a cocoon
in which she must remain
or risk instant death.
She does not recall coming here
but know she must have done so
in the not too distant past.
That is the problem with cocoons,
there is no memory prior
to finding yourself within,
but she doesn’t mind
for she has grown accustomed
to this life, likes that shelter
her home affords her.
She is certain she
will emerge some day, when
the time is right,
and she will take flight
leaving this life behind
in the receding darkness.
She walks with a deliberateness
that bespeaks years
of always knowing what the destination is.
Getting to the destination, she knows
is far less important than having one.
On occasion she would arrive
at her destination and would then
have no option but to immediately select
her next destination, for being
on one place too long was, to her,
a form of living death.
Many thought her a wanderer,
and she was fine with that.
She knew the shortest distance
between two points was a straight line
it was also just the most boring,
and for her it was really all about the trip.