Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight


Monday, June 29, 2015

About Love

Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.   --Rumi

In my dream, you are standing by the fence
with an armload of sunflowers
and above them, your sweet boyish face
that makes my heart stumble. We stay outside
and talk for hours, and you are not dead
and it does not seem strange.

I might be clinically insane
every now and then, and perhaps
irretrievably narcissistic
but I know more about love than most people.
I know that love is the one who'll drive
all night in a driving rain
just to hold your hand. You knew this, too
and when I flew for miles to see you
in the hospital though there was nothing
much to say, we sat together
and didn't say much
and it was enough.

You taught me nearly everything
I know about love, and I learned the rest
from hard experience: what a person says
means something
but what he does means everything.
Also, that thing about sticks and stones
is bullshit: words can bite and burn
down to the bone, quick as anything.

You don't have to be altruistic
to feel grief; sanity is not required
in order to love someone
so deeply that when they are gone
they take with them a whole band in the spectrum
of your color wheel. Suddenly, blue
no longer exists
and your sky will never look the same:
clouds drifting across pale grey.

Love is a strange
and haunted animal. It will stay
long after all the other guests
have left the party.
It curls itself around me now
familiar as an old friend, as I wake
to a world where you are not.
I watch as dawn comes
and the stars press themselves into her arms
and fall asleep, one by one.
This is how I know
you and I and everything
are always alright.

KB ©6/2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Dead Man's Blanket

"There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground; there are a thousand ways to go home again."  --Rumi 

I don't know who he was
but he's dead now
and I have his blanket.
I am wrapping myself in it tonight
seeking sleep on the desert floor
but it has failed to keep me warm, so instead
I am watching the wheel of the galaxy
turning endlessly overhead. I am glad
to be an insomniac spectator, front and center
at the greatest show this end of the cosmos
with bats and frogs for company
and the wind and waves to orchestrate.

I stopped today at a roadside church
and lit a candle for my soul at Mary's altar
nevermind I haven't worn the tattered shroud
of religion since before this dead man
wore his blanket.
It doesn't matter to Mary;
whatever I've done
it doesn't have to be repeated
whatever sin I've committed
I don't have to atone for it now.
When I drove on I left that candle burning
and I know she watched over it
open-eyed, hands outstretched and clement.
It is more than I have ever given myself:
this simple mercy.

Now I lay me down to stay awake
cold and sure of nothing
except the planet is still spinning
and I am still here to bear witness.
I wait for the stars to show their faces
and then I speak to them, one by one
first the planets and then
the constellations: scorpio
and the bear and orion
telling them I am still here, alive if not well
and it almost seems that they listen
pausing for a bare second
to bend their stately forms, kindly, nodding.

Startling to be noticed in this way;
I am just a bit of dust wrapped up
in a shit-for-nothing blanket
that once belonged to someone
who now lies below the earth
while I lie on top of it, shivering
staring up
like god's own maniac.
But, after all, I am a living maniac
grateful for the dirt and the cold
the finite breath in my lungs
the flawed beat of my little heart.

Someday, somebody will wrap themselves
in an old thing of mine: a silk scarf
a bit of faded denim
the bright weave of a poem.
But it will not be today
because today I am alive
and there are uncharted miles ahead of me;
see, the sun is already at my back
warm, bold, impatient
pressing me on down a desert road.

KB ©6/2015

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Nepal 2015

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.

They say pain opens the heart
and maybe this is true;
a man once told me he never felt love
until the doctors broke open his chest
stopped his heart and cut out the blockage.
Now love flows over and around him
and his eyes cry for joy
and for the loss of everything he did not feel
before he was torn in two.

If pain opens the heart
then the heart of the world is a bleeding mess
and there is no surgery skilled enough
to staunch the gaping loss:
this place where some human lives mean less
than others, this planet
that heaves and groans and hurls its children
into the unknown.

The side of a mountain is no place to be
even in the safest conditions; you do not want
to stay there, all that uncertain ground
falling away beneath you.
When disaster strikes
you want solid ground, you want working
cellphones, you want infrastructure and exit signs
the certainty of rescue
a place to stand which does not move.
But certainty is the habitat of the moneyed few
and not many are privileged to live there.

They say pain opens the heart
and my heart is open. It does not need
to be stopped, eviscerated and unblocked
in order to understand what it has lost.
Do not tell me about uncertain ground
because I already live here; do not
give me a tour of the exit signs
because I am not leaving.
I will cling to the side of this mountain
side by side with the wild unknown
these fearful prayers, this monkey mind;
they are the only words I know
so they will have to be enough.

KB ©6/2015