River Journey

I’m thrilled to introduce the Kingdom of Enough’s first guest blogger: my friend Sarojani, a wise poet and member of the local Celtic band Innisfree.

empty canoes in a river

There is a bend in the river.

Boat’s gotten too heavy.

Gotta keep what’s worth keeping.

Gotta let some things go.

 

I remember floating

weightless

only water and sky.

It was simple then.

I did not know

grief or climate change,

the ravages of war

or a young black man’s daily danger.

 

I believed in presidents being

good and smart leaders

with dignity and integrity:

true public servants who helped

make things better.

Never doubted there was enough

food or water for everyone.

 

But now I believe in the more immediate politics

of loving kindness,

the cast of burnished sunlight

in the late autumn afternoons

through the old growth redwoods,

the gift of longing for ongoing communion

with The Beloved.

 

I remember a day in the Irish landscape

at Croagh Patrick

the Holy Mountain

in the town of Murrisk, County Mayo

where for centuries

pilgrims have been making their way

up the rocky path

to leave their failings,

make their promises,

cry their fervent prayers.

 

I set out that day with the only plan

that I would go as far as I could.

I was older now, heavier, not very agile or confidant

in my uphill climbing abilities.

But I knew my heart was true.

Before very long and way after many

had passed me, I sat on a large rock overlooking the beauties of Clew Bay

and the surrounding landscape.

I had already reached my limit.

 

There I meditated for awhile

with the light of the swiftly moving clouds

and the full presence of the Irish wind.

I settled in to a deep stillness

and felt to be in a place of solace and guidance.

When I finally opened my eyes

I saw pilgrim after pilgrim passing me,

making their way up the steep slope

and I began to greet them and then

silently bless their journey.

 

It felt right.

I had been rightly placed.

I knew that I had my own special place on this mountain

and was doing what I had been prepared for

in this very moment;

that we all have a particular path,

places we are planted, people who seem to come randomly into our lives.

The medicine we all have for each other.

 

I thought of our dear fragile earth,

the fabric of our government that appears to be coming apart at the seams,

the potential for mass despair and feelings of hopelessness;

that somehow we are helpless in the face of our
daunting circumstances.

But then I remember the Holy Mountain;

the one we each are climbing every day
in the best and only way we know how,

climbing In the way we were made to climb.

 

I see step by step

each of us

being given pieces to hold to fight for

to help heal.

 

The Water Protectors.

The interpreters of whale songs.

The research scientists relentless in making their pleas with hard evidence

in giving voice to the earth’s cries.

Those striving for peace in thought, word and deed

choosing diets and lifestyles

that protect animals and ecosystems.

The poets, artists and musicians who stay true

to keeping beauty alive and well in the world.

There is a bend in the river

and I see boats

of every shape, size and color

making their way safely

through the tumultuous channels

and abiding the ever-changing currents.

“But where will we all land?” do you ask.

 

I guess that part is up to us.

 

By Sarojani Rohan

 

The Last Oozings

grape clustersLeaves on the spent canes of the
boysenberry vine crinkle and fade,
while congregations of Concord grapes
swell with purple sweetness.
Into the green globes hanging from the persimmon tree
an orange stain begins to creep.
Slowly the garden is bending towards autumn.

Unlike me
it surrenders its greenness willingly.
In a long, languid season
of praise for the light
it consents to the coming darkness.
May I join my voice to this
thanksgiving song,
reach for candle and cup,
and trust in the secret gifts
the roots know
in the belly of the earth.

 

Title from “To Autumn” by John Keats

The Untrimmable Light

The waning moon has sunk into the sea,
and the leaves of the fig tree tremble
in the zephyr come to rustle
the darkness from this mild winter night.
All across this mountain,
through a sunny autumn
and into a dry December,
leaves cleaved to their life-sustaining branches
beyond all reason,
but now,
now a storm is coming.

Raindrops patter on the roof
like the footsteps of exiles,
but then retreat.
Not yet! Not yet!
For a moment the wind holds its breath.
Hills and coastal plains thirst in silence,
and fading leaves await the fateful tug.

All day long clouds flirt with the sun,
and sometimes their private laughter
spills showers from above,
but the deluge does not come.
Instead, across sky and sea,
past fig leaves fluttering in the afternoon breeze,
through the window of my cell at New Camaldoli,
a sunbeam finds my notebook and me.
Leaf shadows dance a mad jig on the wall,
but a poet’s in the spotlight:
the page aglow tells it all.

Title from the poem “Mindful” by Mary Oliver.

Your Mirror

oak tree

From root to crown

the oak tree gives You glory,

in sap and leaf

on branches

where squirrels play

and the bluejay squawks his morning joy.

Light becomes food,

water and sugar into sap

and acorns,

autumn harvest for

crow, squirrel, human,

and a gift to the earth

that may sprout a seedling in the spring.

 

A pair of doves build a nest here,

make love, make eggs,

chicks hatch,

fledglings test their wings,

and seedlings grow

in the shade of their mother.

 

Leaf,

star,

woman

looking out her window at dawn –

what do we have in common?

When the body becomes Your mirror,

leaves drink light,

and I make it into a song of praise.

 

(Title from a poem by Mahadeviyakka)

Summer Solstice 2017

IMG_3820

After the long winter of seed-soaking rains
when the driest taproots drank their fill,
the privet and the bougainvillea
revel in inebriation,
besotted roses plaster their vines with blooms,
and even the stately redwood indulges
in tipsy explosions of baby green at every needle tip.
Now comes a feast of light
for the leafy exuberant ones.
Deep in their cells they remember
the way they thirsted in the drought,
but this memory is just a gilt edge
on the solstice invitation to summer.

The prodigal stretched-out days ask,
how big is your we?
Does it include
this velvet yellow petal,
an extraterrestrial guava blossom,
the courtly redwood?
Oh come, my darling,
it’s the summer solstice –
lift your glass to the light,
and dance with the whole shimmering forest!

We the People

On the day a bully takes office,

the rivers roar out a lamentation,

and the sky sheds frozen tears.

Even the marble statues weep.

In graves that the earth

had finally folded into healing arms,

the ghosts of slaves stir

from too short a rest.

 

But on the day the women march,

parchment rustles in glass cases.

us-constitution

We the people

Are created equal

Molecules vibrate faded ink into quivering.

Life

Liberty

The pursuit of happiness

On the day the women put on the armor of light

and march into the streets across the land,

on the day we claim our right

peaceably to assemble

and remind the bully

Congress shall make no law respecting

an establishment of religion,

or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

or abridging the freedom of speech,

or of the press,

the lady in the harbor will lift her torch.

On the day the women resist hate

because we are all created equal,

no matter our

gender,

age,

color,

creed,

or sexual orientation,

the earth will answer our stomping feet with jubilation.

On the day the women demand

care for the planet,

health and safety for our brothers and sisters,

we will wake the country from its Trump-induced trance

and across this hazy land the wind will blow;

on that day the words in the National Archives will dance.

We the people do ordain it so.

 

 

Words in italics from our Charters of Freedom: the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Image of United States Constitution courtesy of Jonathan Thorne through a Creative Commons non-commercial license.

Winter Solstice 2016

labyrinth by the ocean

One hundred steps to the center of the labyrinth,

and light enters the world as gently

as the pilgrim making her way to the center.

Can you tell the moment when the foxtail

takes shape out of the night

and the pine needles assume their points?

In the pause between

breathing out

and breathing in,

the last star fades into the brightening sky,

gone to the place you journey in your sleep.

 

I watch my thoughts dart off

like a startled flock of sparrows

in twenty directions.

I have written ten thousand words

that don’t mean a thing.

Now the solstice calls me to the labyrinth,

and my feet long for the one hundred steps.