January 7th, 2006

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Checking in -

I am struggling again with the unpleasantness of the chemo. I really would just like to sit and cry, and sometimes I do, but there are so many hours, so many minutes when I feel like this, and so, I have so much time. I offer two poems that perhaps suggest what I am trying to balance as the tender lining of my stomach says, "No, I've had enough. Please stop."



Presence


Today I don’t see the mountain lion
only bones of deer
A rib cage fluent in two parts - a skull
hollow
as the space between stars
I see only footprints,
but, still, I ingest,
the exchange of energy,
the cache at rest.







Quandary

I try to rest, and be,
and I try not to try.
I fear that I am boring,
apathetic.
If I let myself sit,
sluggish and unstimulated,
do I go deeper within,
like the mouse swallowed
by the snake,
where bells tap mindfully,
ingest,
or do I stay on the surface,
an indulgent ball of blah,
unable to even roll,
I am so soft with flab.
Even a cushion needs some oomph to hold,
the body of the cat, to mold the bones,
to lift the ribs from splat.
I sit to calm,
and visualize,
inner bells pealing layers of me,
exfoliating as I lounge,
radiant in a bath
where kindness hums like eels,
electric on their path.
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Jane Hirshfield -

The following paragraph is from the book "Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry," by Jane Hirshfield.

"Difficulty itself may be a path toward concentration - expended effort weaves us into a task, and successful engagement, however laborious, becomes also a labor of love. The work of writing brings replenishment even to the writer dealing with painful subjects or working out formal problems, and there are times when suffering's only open path is through an immersion in what is. The eighteenth-century Urdu poet Ghalib described the principle this way: "For the raindrop, joy is in entering the river - / Unbearable pain becomes its own cure."


Today, I realize how much I need the darkness over the light right now. I am like the mouse, swallowed whole by the snake, and sitting there, dissolving in the process of digestion, and assimilated into a whole new way of time, for the snake and the mouse live very different lives as to their use of motion and food. I feel myself becoming the snake, content to loll on a rock in the sun, and to feel each muscle and rib stroke the earth as it moves.

I also find it interesting to note that anger changes our saliva. A snake only uses its venom to protect its life. Perhaps, we, too, should notice our secretions, and keep our saliva sweet, as much as possible. Let us nip in play, and only bite when we truly are threatened, which, in these times, may be somewhat rare. Assume people mean the best in what they say and do, and, then, what's thrown, may slide off,like icing on warm cake, and when, you do need to bite, then, do, but, only then.
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Muir Woods!!

I decide I must visit the salmon. The drive is beautiful as fog staffs in layers, and the wet trees sing of clouds, rain, and sun.

I am too early for the rangers, so I walk far in looking for my friends, but I don't see them. I do see how the rocks and light look like salmon, and I enjoy my seach. I see the fallen trees, and how, though fallen,  they provide life. I sit by the stream and feel so clearly that we never die, just transform.

As I depart, the ranger informs me there are only a couple of salmon this year. I am okay with that. I'm a little depleted myself, so I accept that though the stream is flowing beautifully,  there are less salmon breeding in it this year. As I contemplate life and death, I remember a poem I wrote after my mother died.


 

                                        At My Death


                                See the monkey bars standing,

                                                that once I crossed, swinging,

                                                          hand over hand,

                                                                   in Joy -

 
                                                Waves when they move,

                                                          don’t take

                                                                   the water with them -                                                                                                                           
                                                                           
Neither will  I -

 

 


          


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National Parks -

Become involved with saving our national parks by signing up for Park Lines at www.npca.org.

Paul Hoffman, an Interior political appointee, is trying to change the national parks so they are not about preservation, but are about snowmobiles, off-road vehicles, and airplanes flying overhead. Let us continue to preserve what needs our help. Sign up now. It is one of the many worthwhile organizations to support.