Momentary Pastures

[Video: if anyone’s having a moment right now, it’s Welsh folk singer/songwriter/harpist Georgia Ruth,
who just won the Welsh Music Prize for her debut album — which, like this opening track, is also
called
Week of Pines. Regular readers of RAMH will understand that one of the things which appealed to
me about the album was its mix of English- and Welsh-language songs.]

From whiskey river:

Sometimes I feel like if you just watch things, just sit still and let the world exist in front of you — sometimes I swear that just for a second time freezes and the world pauses in its tilt. Just for a second. And if you somehow found a way to live in that second, then you would live forever.

(Lauren Oliver [source])

and:

Fall Song

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries — roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay — how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

(Mary Oliver [source (and elsewhere)])

Not from whiskey river:

Happiness

For Barbara Green

Happiness. I am not used
to this. (There is always
something wrong.)
Look at it
the bright early tree.
(I am trying to find out
how you fell.)
The leaves have already turned.
(I want you to see
this, how they
glow outside the glass.)
Morning light strikes
differently. For so
many years I hardly
had time to know such
moments. They struck me
with such intensity
I would have said
battered me open.
I never understood
they were mine.
I was panicked.
Unhappiness caught up with me
all the time.
Did you know
the speed of light never alters
even when you go faster
it will be
still that much faster
than you?
(I am thinking that in your fall
something momentous occurred.)
What I see as beautiful
I want you to see too.
Next door, the workmen are hammering.
Very soon we’ll go to lunch.
For some reason this moves me to tears.
How life is.
(One does not have to explain
what occurs. One only need say
it has meaning.)
Years ago, when I was young
I traveled to Italy, took in
the great sights. I was in awe, yet
I did not understand
seeing Masaccio’s frescoes
fading like shadows into the walls,
this would be the only time
nor that
I would never forget.
Those muted shades are
still with me, as possession
and longing, and the view too
of the square before that church
the air, newly spring,
that day, all of it.
Life, I have finally begun to realize,
is real.
(All this time you recover
from falling
will sink indelibly into mind.)
The leaves
may fall before you are able
to see them. Science
has recently learned
the line
of existence is soft
and stretches out like a field
wind and light shaping the grass
energy
of sight giving consciousness
force. In the meantime
we live out our lives.
(This morning we talked for so long
everything became lucid.
How can I say what I see?)
At each turning
perfection eludes me.
One moment is not like another.
Last spring
the house next door caught fire.
There was the smell of gas.
We thought
both houses would go.
I vanished up the hill,
went to the house of a friend
where we listened for flames
and to that aria from Italian
opera, was it the one of love,
or jealousy, or grief?
My house was untouched.
Now the one next door is painted,
fixed. In place of
perfection, the empty hands
I turned out to the world
are filled.
With what? A letter
half written, the notes
I make on this page,
this new feeling about my shoulders
of age, that sad child’s story
you told me this morning,
the workmen’s tools sounding
and stopping. What? As time
moves through me, does it also
move through you?
I keep remembering what you said,
ways you have of seeing (and that
light must have curved with
you fall.) This
is the paradox of vision:
Sharp perception softens
our existence in the world.

1986

(Susan Griffin [source])

…and:

It is said that at the moment when the person Gautama became Shakyamuni Buddha (the moment of his realization under the bodhi tree), all of its leaves began to fall to the great earth. It must have been a thunderous sight. Maybe some leaves had already fallen and some still held on while he sat there, but it is said that when he attained realization, all of the leaves fell off…

Our usual way is to say, “God, I’m falling apart. My arm, my thumb don’t work as well as they used to, and sometimes my knee.” But these signs of falling apart are actually wholesome signs, and it is at great cost that we avoid what nature is repeatedly teaching. Every season there’s a Dharma within a Dharma. We don’t have to wait for spring because there is also an eternal spring. There is an eternal fall. Our seasons are eternal, and they are right here in our fingertips, right here within ourselves. So really it is always a time for thanks and giving, for appreciation of our lives.

(Jakusho Kwong [source])

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