Monday, April 13, 2009

Inspired by T.S. Eliot

Mischief ever lurks in the corners of your eyes, a smile
Underneath the smile of flawless teeth, a playfulness
Sitting, puck-like, on your brow — you thawed the
Ice that wickedly set my mouth in a Scandinavian line,
Cured my genetic dourness, taught me again to laugh.

How difficult not to be seduced, my full-grown playmate,
Ensorceled by that childlike freedom into wishing you
And I might not have to grow up! I thank you nonetheless for
Risible moments, for teaching me once more to hope, weep,
Dream, dare, let myself be me — to try for something with all my

Soul and body. What a rush! Yet insinuating itself into
Our games there was not only that better, nobler

Dream for each and both, that challenge to
Exert ourselves for something truly worthwhile, to
Earn a happiness we had not dared desire — but also the sickly
Pall of grief, of loss, of not quite reaching our heart’s goal;
Losing something precious, costly, dear; the sober wrench that
Yanks us back into harsh daylight, hard reality, solid ground.

This solid ground is firm, yes, and rock-strewn,
Hazardous, harsh, and hard on naked feet, unguarded souls.
At the core of many salt-water moments, the source of
Tears upwelling in my chest, shaking this solid body — as

If it were a small thing, dry thing, fragile autumn leaf
Tossed back and forth in playful breezes or hurled

In some divine anger (not Juno’s wrath again!) to earth —
Small at first but growing, is this grief, this sorrow:

Not at losing you, though that is ache enough to send me
Over the edge, and does, but my heart’s lament
That you, dear man, sweet man, fine man, good man with a

Heart made for love and hands for kindly deeds, should
Ever fail to see how much you have to give this world
And cannot feel — deep, deep within yourself — how
Rich your gifts and your complexity: your gentleness
Dancing fiercely with manly strength, your

Artist’s yearning after truth and beauty woven
Together with your first-hand knowledge of life’s pain;

All your openness to friendship, family, orphaned animals, a
Love of sky and water, tree and leaf, a joy deep-rooted in
Living — all of this pouring out like sand in an hourglass,

But not from one hour’s chamber to the next — no! Spilt
Upon the ground, pouring from some crack in the glass, some
Torn part of your heart, some little crack through which

Your hope, your love of self, your pain, your fear all rush
Out, soaked in seeming seconds into the earth, instantly,
Utterly gone, lost, unrecognized. You and I, my fellow fool,

Are alike in this, watching precious hours vanish with little
Real and lasting stuff to show for them. We are such slaves,
Each in his own way, to our fears and hurts, old wounds.

Terry, what would happen if we could resolve to
Hold our hearts open, our ears alert, our eyes ever seeking —
Each moment that we have — to life, not fear? What

Might then come about? What healing waters lie
Under the deceptive surface of our turbulent, wasted days?
Surely the power that set this amazing universe
Into being, into action, into a dance of variety,
Complexity, and some strange balance of compassion and beauty

Will reveal at least a hint of our potential, and with
Heart-breaking (for we need our hearts broken open again)
Invitation call us back to life worth living!
Let Shawn’s passing before us, my brother-in-law’s daily wasting --
Eaten by disease, the news of every terror on this earth

Teach us not that all is vain but that each new hurt and
Horror calls us to learn from pain, from failure, from futility;
Each moment reveals itself as fresh opportunity to be the

Men that we were created to become. Even our wildest
Urges give flesh and voice to that creative fire, that
Spirit that gives life and binds all things together.
I weep, yes, to think your dreams are circumscribed,
Contained by something way too small, inadequate.

Lad, it is not too late to take our next small step
And say yes to God, to life, to joy, to deepest reality, to
Sit still that we may listen to our heart’s deepest yearning,
To want more, and more, and even more for ourselves, for
Such (believe it or not) is Heaven’s will. Dream deeply, dare bravely. Be!

- Paul

This originally appeared in Byzigenous Buddhapalian. Paul lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This acrostic is inspired by this Eliot passage:

For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.

— From “The Dry Salvages” from Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot