Sunday, November 11, 2012


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 

4 years ago I went to Puerto Rico, where I encountered a tropical storm. My life in Tucson, post monsoon season, is placid, safe, dull, perhaps that's why I dreamed last night of Puerto Rico, of storms I have had the privilege to meet (and survive). Intensities…….that’s what the tropics are, life at its most vibrant, virulent, creative, predatory, colorful………impossible to be in the midst of that potency of life and not become intoxicated with it. Intoxicated or terrified, take your choice. Perhaps, in retrospect at least, experiences can be, well, kind of like meals. How did they TASTE? Did they fill, were they nourishing, spicy, sweet or bitter,  or toxic, making one slow, dull, digestive.
"The world is not with us enough - oh taste and see!" the poet said (Denise Levertov this time)  and it's true.

I remember I had a room with a balcony at the top of a hotel  in Rincon. I arrived  off season to visit someone, and had to find a place to stay unexpectedly.  I  felt a bit like a character from Stephen King’s “The Shining”, with a whole hotel to myself at night, 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 advanced across the dark ocean, the lights went out, and there were no candles, or even an attendant to ask about candles.

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

I do not think I shall ever forget standing on the balcony, the intense heavy silence, 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  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 imaginations of what is existing in the brief moments between those storms.
I know that sometimes
your body is hard like a stone
on a path that storms break over,
embedded deeply
into that something that you think is you,
and you will not move
while the voice all around
tears the air
and fills the sky with jagged light.

But sometimes unawares
those sounds seem to descend
as if kneeling down into you
and you listen strangely caught
as the terrible voice moving closer
and in the silence
now arriving

Get up, I depend
on you utterly.
Everything you need
you had
the moment before
you were born.

~ David Whyte ~

(Where Many Rivers Meet)


Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Powerful post - and perfect poems. I suddenly realized, too, why I live in the tropics.

Lauren Raine said...

How fortunate you are! I think I left a big piece of my heart in Indonesia, and little bit in Puerto Rico too. That vibrant color, the intensity of life in the tropics..........