Forest Paths

bliss

Forest Paths

Every day
I cut my path through the forest.
Some days
I cut miles and miles of new terrain,
and others
I barely make it a foot.
But I have a good compass,
and I’ll come to whatever glades and hills,
rocks and water,
highlands and lowlands
that my path is meant to cross.

There are others
who’ve cut great highways,
deep muddy ruts
scarring the once-green earth,
traveled by pilgrims
who were meant to cut their own paths,
but didn’t,
meant to follow their own compasses,
but didn’t.
They were fearful.
They were pious.

Sometimes
the great rut-makers
and rut-walkers
scorn my simple path
because it is not safe,
not logical,
and definitely not well-traveled.
They cannot see
that their own road
is wider and deeper and more twisting
than it was ever meant to be.

They have forgotten their compasses,
in favor of what was once a good direction
for one
or a few.
And now they think
it is the only good way.
They cannot understand
the thrill of the wilderness,
the beauty of pain,
and the joy of the small voice
when you’ve got a good compass.

Springtime Travel

Time seems thinner in the spring.
I mean, each year is a layer
and usually the layers are too thick,
too heavy to push aside and revisit.
But in the springtime —
in the euphoria of sunshine
every past soul has seen,
of a fresh breeze
every past soul has smelt,
of tender sprouts
every past soul has touched
— the layers begin to melt a little,
run together, overlap,
and I enjoy the season in solidarity
with every other generation.
We smile and walk down dusty lanes
together in the rediscovered sunlight.

Feast

I see the bone-white tree with its yellow leaves,

and my tongue salivates. I swallow

and my stomach curls up in contentment.

I breathe and my heart grows warm.

I eat of this tree, this free feast

until I am nearly full.

The Artist of this culinary masterpiece

smiles through it,

and I leave a little room left

for this is only the appetizer,

and one day I will feast

on what now would make me burst.

Plaster Cast

Masks are crucial to performance. They must have nary a crack,
painted smooth and bright. They must blend with the troupe of others,
indiscernible, so that the show may go on
and others may look on your face and see the mask
smiling placidly of papier-mâché
and remark to themselves how beautiful you are
and how they yearn to be so.
Over time the mask cuts off your air
until you become tired of the cramped sweating stiffness of it.
So you tear it off and grind it into powder like plaster.
Then the others grow angry,
not because you wore a mask
but because you admitted it,
not because you copied their art,
but because you were caught at it.
Then you wish you could reach for their eyes
and tear away at the holes,
prying off the mask and grinding it into powder
like plaster.

Face

 
It was fun to put on her face for a day,
with her quizzical looks
and red-lipped smirks,
her well-groomed brow
and perfect pink cheeks.
 
It was fun to put on her face for a day,
to smile knowingly when people stared
and wondered why she wore such high heels
that clicked on the pavement
like a second hand.
 
It was fun to put on her face for a day,
To sip wine from a glass
and bite crusty bread,
suck up spaghetti noodles
all without staining her lipstick.
 
It was fun to put on her face for a day,
but at midnight
in a little white sink
the face came off
and disappeared down the drain.
 

Bitterkalt

IMG_5443

The air is raw

and smells of ice and smoke.

The land is cleared of distraction,

everything unhidden,

everything laid bare.

Above is the lightest turquoise stone,

very smooth,

and the sunset

casts periwinkle shadows

on the white reposing drifts

that fall and collect

with a sound louder than silence.

The flame flickers cold,

and night comes early

onto the bony black fingers

that scrape against the turquoise.

Audacity

 

We are so strong to ourselves.

We live in castles and wear our armor,

and go on quests to prove our worth.

We slay the dragons and battle sea-serpents,

regarding death as we do the ant,

casually superior and paying no mind,

never facing it.

We treat mysteries of the universe

with educated familiarity, keepers of secrets

we were never told.

We boast of progress and achievement,

count trophies and polish medals,

soak in champagne and write memoirs

and condescend to allow our worship.

But when the temple gods are smashed and replaced,

When the tapestries rot and the coins tarnish,

When shapeless fear reveals what we do not know,

and death forces a point-blank gaze at it,

when the monsters resurrect

and our castles crumble down,

we wake from our dreams,

and realize that we are only children.