Saturday, January 16, 2016

Storms and Memories

All this petty worry
while the great cloak
of the sky grows dark
and intense
round every living thing.

What is precious
inside us does not
care to be known
by the mind
in ways that diminish
its presence.

David Whyte

Lately I've been looking back at this Blog, which is almost 9 years old now, amazingly.  I am perhaps looking for myself in these excursions into my journal, to see how I've changed.  Where I've been.   This is a post from a strange trip I took to Puerto Rico, to visit my friend Felicia, who passed away in 2009.  I still  remember, moist and vast and potent, the presence of that Storm, that moment in the great Mystery of the sea.

That moment was beautiful.

September, 2007

Returning, after barely a week, from Puerto Rico, where I went to visit a friend I haven’t seen in over 30 years, who is recovering from cancer, and no small amount of miracle.
Intensities…….that’s what the tropics are, life at its most vibrant, virulent, creative, predatory, colorful………it is impossible to be in the midst of this potency of life and not become intoxicated with it. Intoxicated or terrified, take your choice.  Perhaps they are the same.

Lately I've been thinking of my experiences as, well, kind of like meals. How do they TASTE?  How am I nourished, fed, satiated?  The more present I become, the more each experience, each day, seems to fill me, nourishing and energizing, or toxic, making me slow, dull, digestive. "The world is not with us enough - oh taste and see!" the poet said, and it's true.

I had a room with a balcony at the top of a hotel called the Lazy Parrot, in Rincon. I’m sure it’s a hopping place in its season, with the two bars below and tiers of balconies looking out over the green hills that wind down to the ocean, famous here for surfing and snorkeling. However, I seem to have arrived at off season, and I felt a bit like a character from Stephen King’s “The Shining”, with a whole hotel to myself at night, not even an attendant in sight, empty bars ringing with the ghosts of bands and booze and laughter and sex, below me, two levels, empty blue pool, palm frond chairs, wind, wind, wind, the wet, heavy tropical air, wind blowing over wicker tables. As the storm progressed, the lights went out, and there were no candles, or even attendant to ask about candles.

I do not think I shall ever forget standing on the balcony, the sounds of the koki frogs, a woman calling for her dog in Spanish “Limon, Limon!”, and watching the sudden illumination of lightning as it revealed an advancing mass of vast clouds, rolling in from the distant ocean. I could not but be awed by the truth of that moment, our lives, our plans, our hopes and petty plans existing in the brief moments between those storms.

Our world seems that way to me sometimes, our unsustainable civilization so brilliant and frenetic, carrying on its business as a great storm advances  at the horizon.  Just as I sat on that balcony, observing the power of the dark, lighting infused presence  in the distance.

So I sat in the state of Storm, with nothing to do but witness and participate.
It was beautiful.

(Of course, it was all too irresistible and I had to open the door. Behind it was another door.)


The house I live in
is made of doors

opening into rooms
made of memories

Some rooms are tombs for the heart
full of damp bones, old letters
and useless ornaments.

I remember a pink room
 that pressed me
until I couldn't breath,
and a yellow room, 
big enough to hold the sky
or a troupe of elephants
dancing on a thimble.

Some rooms diminish, 
some rooms compress.
Rooms can be tricky.

What I chiefly remember are doors.
I live in a house of doors.

I opened a  door and  saw her sitting there 
the sign on the door said 1969,
it was February in Berkeley.
The plum trees were red in the rain,
steam rose from an espresso machine
smoke rises from the girl, cigarette in hand
who listens to the boyfriend
whose name I don’t remember.

I close the door 
the girl slips away behind me,
riding a train I can see in perspective
riding to a vanishing point.

An onion, that's it.
All those layers.
Just when you think you can name yourself,
you discover new layers,
you’re forming a new skin,
a new ring.
But there's a core.
And where does that core start?

This room I live in.
These walls.
Today  they seem thin.
I can almost see through them today.
Today I feel
I feel like a Chinese box,
one inside another.

you open a door, any door

and you have to walk outside
into something tender:into a quiet yard
because of a voice you hear
or a bell
or a train
pulling away


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