This is my way of saying thank you. This is the get well soon card I forgot to mail. This is my writing you a poem that is made up of sighs, of tapping you on the shoulder and saying I’m sorry.
I should have understood. I should have fallen to my knees the first time I felt Big Sur fog on my face. I should have wept with wonder and awe. I should have stood among the redwoods and shouted hallelujah, held out my hand filled with sunflower seeds for the jays and noticed. Noticed that the air stirred the branches, stirred the feathers, the soil, the bacteria working feverishly beneath the soil, all waving to me, every goddamn thing trying to get my attention, shouting here over here look down look up we’re all here and we’re all one.
I should have. But instead I felt separate, maybe thinking. About love or the lack of it, sex, my mother, my dead father, how my feet spread out on the earth. All of that and more. Maybe what I weighed that morning or what I had for lunch.
I look at myself standing there with the fog, the redwoods, the rhizomes that connect all the trees in a vast network of nourishing support and I think….wake up honey. This golden light carries the gospel, the good news: Everything is singing. Everything is connected.
Now I light candles, bring her small rocks from the mountains. How do I serve you now I ask, now that my protest days are behind me, now that my mind turns inward away from strife? How am I to serve you when the body grows frail?
She opens up her arms and holds me while I weep. Brushes back a strand of hair and tucks it gently behind my ear. Weaves a plumeria into my braid. It’s not so hard she says. It’s not so easy either. All I ask is that you love. Love it all. The shadow and the light, the joy and grief. All I ask is that you see yourself reflected in the other. Nurture the best in yourself and extend that love outward, upward, beyond your limitations deep into the heart of matter which is deep into my soil, down into my roots where the hum of life vibrates your cells, invites the life force to do what it will with you, offers to dance you to the outer limits of your mind, until it all falls away, the woman standing beneath the redwoods tasting fog for the first time the tree the birds the sun and moon until you dissolve like salt in water and come home to me, the mother you have been calling for from you very first breath.
God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.