Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hózhó náhásdlíí

 A Christmas Eve poem for all who walk in darkness.
John Hwang : Skid Row


Beauty before you, in darkness;
In darkness, beauty behind you.
Beauty above you, in darkness;
In darkness, beauty around you.

In the back of your mind
you know it
and yet as you run against this dark current
you can’t even breathe.

In the back of your mind
there is a way that winds forward,
toward open road, still waters, nights of kind rest—
the kind others speak of as a common starling on a wire,
little knowing a rare bird has come to bless them again with presence.

You could go crazy
imagining the darkness embrace you 
with such love instead of betrayal, 
because now it slices you open,
stabs you again and again,
rejects you for the millionth time.

You could go crazy
remembering light, remembering a time
when light on the water touched you,
made you feel something;
when light in the valley
broke open your heart and nourished it.

Instead the cruel yoke 
bends you toward asphalt,
down to kiss the dirt and pay it homage.
Instead the iron rod
beats you into a cell half the size of your
burst hopes shriveled dreams
so that you long to evaporate.

Instead your shoulders
fold inward as you carry endless piles of coal
that fuel nothing that feeds you.
Instead your luminous face—
if only you still could see it—
is cloaked by an executioner
who kills without giving its name.

This is why I send the light toward you
to meet you in the valley at the center of the ocean floor.
It rushes like a fury of lava even now,
though you don’t see it,
though your senses are shrouded in exacting poison.
Fur-tongued, muscles seized, plugged, cloud-blinded—
even in paralysis you reach,
second by millimeter by aeon by mile.

This is why I send the light toward you
as you reach, whether you know it or not. 
It climbs the winter cliffs as the city sleeps in misery,
its gentle hands moving over each frozen cell
and calling them back to life.
It weaves this way around
every battered reed, every shivering seed
saying 
all is not lost;
everything is never lost;
anything that is lost can be made whole,
can be called into being out of what was not.

And so this is how I come for you.
This is how you walk in beauty.
In darkness beauty walks;
Beauty walks in darkness.
It has become beauty again.
It has become beauty again.








Saturday, December 14, 2013

A gift, any way you look at it



The hawk didn’t fly by itself. Something was pulling its 
feathers through the air current, making it soar like 
ink from an ancient brush.

Something was making the old oaks sigh in 
five-part traditional folk song, and
it wasn’t the wind.

When the dancers flew around the circle as though their
legacy depended on speed, it was something 
spinning their father’s father’s father’s 
unerasable DNA. 

These are forces that go ignored in three dimensions, maybe four.

These are the sounds you only hear deep underwater as you drown.

This is the wheel you walk in, too big for you to notice as any pattern.

Don’t you know your every word that flows into the sieve of the
microphone flies direct in one hundred simultaneous translations?

You fail to see the full scale of your fingerprint, wonder of the world.

Even as you lay there, kept locked out of the sleep you’re thirsting for,
bees make honey in the chambers of your pumping heart.