The Same Page of the Soul

The Florilegia Project #6:

The Same Page of the Soul

To name and describe, you must first
see. You must go back, and back again to look. 
It slips out of holes in the earth,
like the ancient snake. A tale
too slow for the impatience of our age.

This essential kind of breathing:
a geo-poetic quest. A last refuge for silence.
Love, pursued with fervor, is one of the roads 
to knowledge. Heaven is the place where you think
of nowhere else. 

Memory: gold with flame, and black with ember. 
Immensely rich in trash as it is in treasures. 
We ruin our trips by our fateful habit
of taking ourselves along on them. 
(We did see it, though, and we are grateful.)
This family, after all, gets so much right.
Lapped in dusk, we prepare to listen,
—bearing a drop of sorrow and an atom of ocean—
to carry day out of the dark, like a flame. 
There is no true beauty in things of no use. 

The violet range of colors can trouble the mind like music:
a love to which there is no reply, a silent howl
to hold ourselves sane. Your mind, hauling on a long purpose

—a grace, or tress, of water and of light, 
that quick brightness of exchange 
between person and place. 
A quality  you have not met elsewhere. 
Walking home in solitude, external silence a prize
—tattoo the sudden birdsong on your heart. 

The line, with its pulse of freight, is silent. 
We have been the instrument of our own discovering. 
We bring to the table what we bring to the table.

Nothing matters, and this is why everything does:
the thin silver singing among the last trees...
...too much death. Too much dark radiance. 

A great longing is upon us: to live again
in a world full of gifts. Of faith in seeds:
their angelic inflorescence, and the devil in their roots!

There is just this one good green earth, with which 
the light makes play. Sample, from her,
some sweet feral fruit. 

I didn’t intend a seasonal theme here; those just happen. Seasons infuse us.

I didn’t intend all the death and dusk and dark and melancholy, either—I don’t have to. All of that is part of my daily awareness; I’m sure I gather sparklets through that lens.

The authorship of the words above is various, but it’s worth mentioning that the entire first stanza is fitted together from disconnected lines by Nan Shepherd in The Living Mountain. I haven’t read a book so deeply, so excitedly—so communally—in ages. Because there was Twitter conversation involved (which was sometimes live discussion, as if by text, and sometimes more like posting in a forum), and because that was planned over a period of days, I had the privilege of asking questions of the text I might not have posed on my own, and of hearing reflections alien to (and sometimes uncannily similar to) my own. I also felt primed to read slowly, to savor just a bit at a time, and allow those words to simmer between readings.

I sound like I’m trying to convince you to read it too. And I’m not not trying to do that. But really I’m explaining why Shepherd’s voice is so prominent in this season’s found poem. And mainly I guess I’m just being enthusiastic about her book again. It’s one that can change you.

Anyway. Beltaine. The surge of life, a wild freedom—in a season when most of us are literally confined, and thinking about death more than we’re wont to do. I have only very small consolations to offer. Poetry is made for times like these—and every other. Peace to you, friends, and (of the heart and mind, at least) wild freedom.

As ever, none of the words above belong originally to me. For continuity and beauty, I have shifted a point of view, a tense, or an article here and there, and the punctuation, lineation, and order are my own. Sources for the words themselves may be found here and here.


If you enjoyed this post, please consider collecting sparklets from your most recent favorite book, and turning them into a text all their own.

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