oxygen Everything needs it: bone, muscles, and even, while it calls the earth its home, the soul. So the merciful, noisy machine stands in our house working away in its lung-like voice. I hear it as I kneel before the fire, stirring with a stick of iron, letting the logs lie more loosely. You, in the upstairs room, are in your usual position, leaning on your right shoulder which aches all day. You are breathing patiently; it is a beautiful sound. It is your life, which is so close to my own that I would not know where to drop the knife of separation. And what does this have to do with love, except everything? Now the fire rises and offers a dozen, singing, deep-red roses of flame. Then it settles to quietude, or maybe gratitude, as it feeds as we all do, as we must, upon the invisible gift: our purest, sweet necessity: the air.
I saw to the south a man walking. He was breaking ground in perfect silence. He wore a harness and pulled a plow. His feet trod his figure's blue shadow, and the plow cut a long blue shadow in the field. He turned back as if to check the furrow, or as if he heard a call. Again I saw another man on the plain to the north. This man walked slowly with a spade, and turned the green ground under. Then before me in the near distance I saw the earth itself walking, the earth walking dark and aerated as it always does in every season, peeling the light back: The earth was plowing the men under, and the space, and the plow. No one sees us go under. No one sees generations churn, or civilizations. The green fields grow up forgetting. Ours is a planet sown in beings. Our generations overlap like shingles. We don't fall in rows like hay, but we fall. Once we get here, we spend forever on the globe, most of it tucked under. While we breathe, we open time like a path in the grass. We open time as a boat's stem slits the crest of the present.
I am never alone wherever I am. The air itself supplies me with a century of love. When I breathe in, I am breathing in the laughter, tears, victories, passions, thoughts, memories, existence, joys, moments, and the hues of the sunlight on many tones of skin; I am breathing in the same air that was exhaled by many before me. The air that bore them life. And so how can I ever say that I am alone?
Someday, it will be hard to remember why we were once so fired up about 3G connectivity and the wonders of mobile broadband. Seamless, lightning-fast connectedness will be a given everywhere on Earth, and today's gadgets will be quaint museum pieces. At that point, all we'll care about is what kind of life these devices have created for us. And if it isn't a good life, we'll wonder what we did wrong.
How to be a Poet (to remind myself)Make a place to sit down. Sit down. Be quiet. You must depend upon affection, reading, knowledge, skill-more of each than you have-inspiration work, growing older, patience, for patience joins time to eternity Breathe with unconditional breath the unconditioned air. Shun electric wire. Communicate slowly. Live a three-dimensional life; stay away from screens. Stay away from anything that obscures the place it is in. There are so unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places. Accept what comes from silence. Make the best you can of it. Of the little words that come out of the silence, like prayers prayed back to the one who prays, make a poem that does not disturb the silence from which it came.
What destiny is there, but to sense, observe, merge, re-emerge,Empty, yet filled, spreading everywhere, inside, outside, in, Pulsing, fluctuating, breathing as part of one being, Whispering, feeling, reflecting, flowing between hot and cold, Mineral and plant, dark and light, love and fear, new and old.
I breathe in the soft, saturated exhalations of cedar trees and salmonberry bushes, fireweed and wood fern, marsh hawks and meadow voles, marten and harbor seal and blacktail deer. I breathe in the same particles of air that made songs in the throats of hermit thrushes and gave voices to humpback whales, the same particles of air that lifted the wings of bald eagles and buzzed in the flight of hummingbirds, the same particles of air that rushed over the sea in storms, whirled in high mountain snows, whistled across the poles, and whispered through lush equatorial gardensair that has passed continually through life on earth. I breathe it in, pass it on, share it in equal measure with billions of other living things, endlessly, infinitely.