"There is no less holiness at this time - as you are reading this - than there was on the day the Red Sea parted, or that day in the 30th year, in the 4th month, on the 5th day of the month as Ezekiel was a captive by the river Cheban, when the heavens opened and he saw visions of god. There is no whit less enlightenment under the tree at the end of your street than there was under Buddha's bo tree. In any instant the sacred may wipe you with its finger. In any instant the bush may flare, your feet may rise, or you may see a bunch of souls in trees."
- Annie Dillard
For the Time Being
What I like about the trees is how
They do not talk about the failure of their parents
And what I like about the grasses is that
They are not grasses in recovery
And what I like about the flowers is
That they are not flowers in need of empowerment or validation. They sway
Upon their thorny stems
As if whatever was about to happen next tonight
was sure to be completely interesting
- Tony Hoagland
"We probably ought to be careful about deciding we're feeling offended; it can get old after a while.
The seat of offendedness (like the seat of judgment) can be a real tricky spot to occupy. Before we know it, it can become a twenty-four-hour-a-day job. It becomes all we're known for, and when we're all caught up in all the things we're against, we forget the beauty of the things we're supposed to be for. We forget what the kingdom of God looks like and all the wonderfully odd characters taking up residence there. We forget to revel in dappled things. We forget we're dappled."
- David Dark
"When I label people, I no longer have to deal with them thoughtfully. I no longer have to feel overwhelmed by their complexity, the lives they live, the dreams they have. I know exactly where they are inside - or forever outside - my field of care, because they've been taken care of. The mystery of their existence has been solved and filed away before I've had a chance to be moved by them or even begun to catch a glimpse of who they might be. They've been neutralized. There's hardly any action quite so undemanding, so utterly unimaginative, as the affixing of a label. It's the costliest of mental shortcuts."
- David Dark
your eyes blaze out
take me to mountains
"Think of a globe, a revolving globe on a stand.
What if you had an enormous globe that was so huge it showed roads and houses - a geological survey globe, a quarter of a mile to an inch - of the whole world, and the ocean floor! Looking at it, you would know what had to be left out: the free-standing sculptural arrangement of furniture in rooms, the jumble of broken rocks in the creek bed, tools in a box, labyrinthine ocean liners, the shape of snapdragons, walrus. Where is the one thing you care about on earth, the molding of one face? The relief globe couldn't begin to show trees, between whose overlapping boughs birds raise broods, or the furrows in bark, where whole creatures, creatures easily visible, live out their lives and call it world enough. What do I make of all this texture? What does it mean about the kind of world in which I have been set down? The texture of the world, its filigree and scrollwork, means that there is a possibility for beauty here, a beauty inexhaustible in its complexity, which opens to my knock, which answers in me a call I do not remember calling, and which trains me to the wild and extravagant nature of the spirit I seek."
- Annie Dillard
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Love, too, a leveler, a dying all its own,
the parts left behind not to be replaced,
a loss ongoing, and every day increased,
like rising in the night, at 3:00 am,
to watch the snow or the dead leaf fall,
the rings around the streetlight in the rain,
and then the rain, the red fist in the heart
opening and closing almost without me.
- Stanley Plumly
from Variation on a Line from Elizabeth Bishop's Five Flights Up
I feel my failure intensely
as if it were a vital organ
the gods grew from the side of my head.
You can't cover it with a hat and I no longer
can sleep on that side it's so tender.
I wasn't quite faithful enough
to carry this sort of weight up the mountain.
When I took my vows at nineteen
I had no idea that gods were so merciless.
Fear makes for good servants
and bravery is fraudulent. When I awoke
I wasn't awake enough.
- Jim Harrison
Dead Man's Float
I Have News for You
There are people who do not see a broken playground swing
as a symbol of ruined childhood
and there are people who don't interpret the behavior
of a fly in a motel room as a mocking representation of their thought process.
There are people who don't walk past an empty swimming pool
and think about past pleasures unrecoverable
and then stand there blocking the sidewalk for other pedestrians.
I have read about a town somewhere in California where human beings
do not send their sinuous feeder roots
deep into the potting soil of others' emotional lives
as if they were greedy six-year-olds
sucking the last half-inch of milkshake up through a noisy straw;
and other persons in the Midwest who can kiss without
debating the imperialist baggage of heterosexuality.
Do you see that creamy, lemon-yellow moon?
There are some people, unlike me and you,
who do not yearn after fame or love or quantities of money as
unattainable as that moon;
thus, they do not later
have to waste more time
defaming the object of their former ardor.
Or consequently run and crucify themselves
in some solitary midnight Starbucks Golgotha.
I have news for you -
there are people who get up in the morning and cross a room
and open a window to let the sweet breeze in
and let it touch them all over their faces and bodies.
- Tony Hoagland