Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?
- Mary Oliver
Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives --
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?
Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?
Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!
No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!
Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?
Well, there is time left --
fields everywhere invite you into them.
And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?
Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!
To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!
To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome
To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
to the song falling out of the mockingbird's pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened
in the night
To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!
Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?
While the soul, after all, is only a window,
and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.
Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe
I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.
For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!
A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.
Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?
And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.
That was then, which hasn't ended yet.
Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean's edge.
I climb, I backtrack.
I ramble my way home.
Life Here at the Edge
When love lights a fire in the heart,
don’t be so quick to quell the flames.
To be fully alive is to welcome the
Beloved in countless names and guises,
not turn away the wild with the tame.
Drink your fill of longing. Let
love wash through in waves that
lift you up and carry both your
daring and your fear straight
to unknown places.Yes, there
is danger in not staying safely
cloaked in morality and labels -
But there is life here at the edge,
and a choice to be made between
thoughtful abandon and passionate
restraint. The plaintive cry of the
heart can be ignored only at the
price of a fully realized life.
Throw arms wide to possibilities
that move and call you to come
forth in freedom and in fullness.
Trust the seed of grace within to
blossom without sin or sorrow,
for you are surely big enough to
hold the truth as it enfolds.
From Go In and In: Poems from the Heart of Yoga
By Danna Fauld
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
That's me. Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
- Phenomenal Woman, by Maya Angelou
"A door jumps
out from shadows,
then jumps away. This
is what I've come to find:
the back door, unlatched.
Tooled by insular wind, it
slams and slams
to and without meaning." - Li-Young Lee, from The City in Which I Love You
"Long have you timidly waded
Holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea,
Rise again, nod to me, shout,
And laughingly dash with your hair."
— Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself
Matsuo Bashō (1644 – 28 November 1694), Japanese poet famous for his haikus.
Furu ike ya
mizu no oto
The old pond:
A frog jumps in--
The sound of the water.
Translation: Reginald Horace Blyth