Thursday, September 4, 2008

Puerto Rico, Storms, and Doors............

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

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, after a long healing process, and no small amount of miracle.

I thought I could stay here to housesit for them, write, and see about getting involved with the Ann Wigmore Institute here, in order to do some healing on myself. But after a very short time in their house I went into severe asthma, and had to go to a hotel…….it is clear my own health “challenges” make life under these circumstances untenable here, and return I must from the amazing intensities of this tropic………

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.

Lately I've been thinking of my experiences as, well, kind of like meals. How do they TASTE?
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.

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

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.

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


The house I live in
is made of doors

pretending to enclose rooms
constructed 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.

Behind one door, I saw her sitting there
The sign on the door said 1969, and it was
February in Berkeley.
The plum trees were red in the rain,

steam rose from an espresso machine
and some kind of smoke
rises from the girl who listens to the boyfriend
whose name I don’t remember:
I close the door and 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 to be getting thin.
I can almost see through them today
Today I feel
like a Chinese box,

one inside another.
I think I may be the gate
that opens into another room
made of clouds,
or sky,
or something
I can't name.

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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