In the Winter of My Thirty-Eighth Year
It sounds unconvincing to say When I was young
Though I have long wondered what it would be like
To be me now
No older at all it seems from here
As far from myself as ever
Walking in fog and rain and seeing nothing
I imagine all the clocks have died in the night
Now no one is looking I could choose my age
It would be younger I suppose so I am older
It is there at hand I could take it
Except for the things I think I would do differently
They keep coming between they are what I am
They have taught me little I did not know when I was young
There is nothing wrong with my age now probably
It is how I have come to it
Like a thing I kept putting off as I did my youth
There is nothing the matter with speech
Just because it lent itself
To my uses
Of course there is nothing the matter with the stars
It is my emptiness among them
While they drift farther away in the invisible morning
– – – – –
– – – – –
November 19, 2017
By David Whyte
Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again
on an open sky.
has to be
so you can find
the one line
Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out
someone has written
in the ashes of your life.
You are not leaving.
Even as the light fades quickly now,
you are arriving.
May 15, 2017
I recently discovered a handful of poems I wrote many years ago in Rome. When I was in need of a place to stay for a few months, my friends Miriam and Chris let me crash in their guest room. Every morning I would walk in a nearby park and write a few verses as a sort of spiritual exercise. Some of the poems are stiff and mannered but a few, like Roman Market, aren’t entirely terrible. In that spirit, I dedicate this poem to Lilli, my friends’ departed canine companion who brought joy to everyone she encountered. Well, almost everyone, since there’s a waiter at a restaurant near the Lungotevere in Rome who might disagree. Much like the Zen master slamming his pupil’s foot with a door again and again until the pupil attains enlightenment, Lilli used her canine chompers to awaken the careless waiter with big feet. To my experience dogs, like rain drops, are far more effective spiritual teachers than even the most learned and eloquent of men.
March 26, 2017
– – – – –
I turn my wine-heavy head
and hurry past an ancient
settling into a forgotten corner
of the abandoned market
still littered with rotting abundance
settling under a faded Madonna
she hopes perhaps for shelter
from the delirious clouds
swiftly drifting across the muddy sky
and whistling hot-cold gusts
over the asphalt desert
thunder-crackle deafens me
to her mumbled request
as I lift my eyes to glimpse
the tempest’s first droplets alight
the plaster-cracked Virgin
and marvel at how
they resemble tears
American poet Mary Oliver offers a reminder that there is room within a spiritual family for all of its members, whoever and whatever they may be. A parent doesn’t stop loving a child because of the child’s wicked deeds or hateful words. A son of today doesn’t reject the life he has received nor does a daughter of today hate the blood that courses through her veins because of some wicked ancestor. Even the mistakes of the past and the errors of the present bear witness to the possibility of beneficial spiritual transformation. Too often our fixed ideas and habitual patterns of thought and perception distract us from the change that is already taking place in this very moment.
February 10, 2017
– – – – –
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Click here to hear the author read this poem.