her stance awkward
elbows close to her hips
feet planted firmly
her face speaks loudest
at 16 defiant
still not trusting
in the shadows
where she has
draped flowery vines
over her body
and rests on the
south side of the tree
and likes the
moss beneath her
the leaves tickling
her bare skin
there’s no one watching
no one to judge
no harsh words
except her own
her voices whisper
“you are diamonds
and cool to the touch”
“I want to be velvet
(Photo credit Wilowispaperio, 2014)
( translated by AJ Arberry)
Listen to the story told by the reed,
of being separated.
“Since I was cut from the reedbed,
I have made this crying sound.
Anyone apart from someone he loves
understands what I say.
Anyone pulled from a source
longs to go back.
At any gathering I am there,
mingling in the laughing and grieving,
a friend to each, but few
will hear the secrets hidden
within the notes. No ears for that.
Body flowing out of spirit,
spirit up from body: no concealing
that mixing. But it’s not given us
to see the soul. The reed flute
is fire, not wind. Be that empty.”
Hear the love fire tangled
in the reed notes, as bewilderment
melts into wine. The reed is a friend
to all who want the fabric torn
and drawn away. The reed is hurt
and salve combining. Intimacy
and longing for intimacy, one
song. A disastrous surrender
and a fine love, together. The one
who secretly hears this is senseless.
A tongue has one customer, the ear.
A sugarcane flute has such effect
because it was able to make sugar
in the reedbed. The sound it makes
is for everyone. Days full of wanting,
let them go by without worrying
that they do. Stay where you are
inside such a pure, hollow note.
Every thirst gets satisfied except
that of these fish, the mystics,
who swim a vast ocean of grace
still somehow longing for it!
No one lives in that without
being nourished every day.
But if someone doesn’t want to hear
the song of the reed flute,
it’s best to cut conversation
short, say good-bye, and leave.
(photo: wilowispaperio, 2014)
If Victor Hugo had a thesaurus in 1829 would he have chosen the word sanctuary?
I mean, what if Quasimodo cried “Asylum! Asylum” instead of “Sanctuary! Sanctuary!”?
He may have wound up in Asylum de Bicetre rather than the Notre Dame Cathedral. Esmeralda would still have hung and Quasi would have spent the rest of his days starving and dying in a lunatic asylum rather than while holding Esmeralda at a massive gravesite.
Or what if God had said “And let them make me an asylum, that I may dwell among them”?
The Ark of the Covenant would have been carried not by Levites but mad men.
Asylum conjures images of wet dripping stone, chains embedded in ankles and wrists, rats, defecation, darkness.
Whereas sanctuary, well, think of inner sanctum, velvet curtains, plush floor pillows, soft light, incense.
Same meanings, different connotation.
I find myself thinking about these things when I’m meditating, which I do to gain respite from angst.
Angst, according to the urban dictionary means the following:
“Angst, often confused with anxiety, is a transcendent emotion in that it combines the unbearable anguish of life with the hopes of overcoming this seemingly impossible situation…Angst denotes the constant struggle one has with the burdens of life that weighs on the dispossessed and not knowing when the salvation will appear.”
I’d imagine Quasimodo felt great angst when he realized what was going to happen to Esmeralda, as well as Uzzah, who, according to the Old Testament, was smote by God after accidentally touching the ark.
At what point does angst turn into something else besides, well, angst?
While experiencing angst during meditation the other night, the word sanctuary came to mind.
Of course, for me, meditating means a whole lot of words, as well as voices, music and other distractions.
And I cry, a lot, when I’m meditating, which I’ve attributed to angst.
But what if it isn’t angst?
What if it’s sanctuary?
And this makes me wonder, what word would Victor Hugo have used?
Harmonious? My tears are one with the universe?
Or pastoral… aah, yes, sweet nectar of dew coursing down my cheeks.
Maybe tranquil? Though I can think of nothing tranquil about sobs and snot…
What if my meditative space is crying
my dearest friend
my direst enemy
in my mind
stand at the bow
where my fears
are not so big
The precious parts,
this was never yours.
You couldn’t reach that far.
When sparks erupted
from your eyes and my body
cowered in fear,
as a closet became my best friend,
and trailer steps my protector,
and your voice
Into my future
my sanctuary was
a hammock of meshed steel
lulled me to safe places
kept me from your raging
became my breath
You couldn’t touch me.