Thursday, September 23, 2010


We passed the day of equinox and somehow I missed marking it. Now the night is longer than the day, and our mornings hold a warm, quiet, late sunrise. Evenings, though I try to hold them, slip quickly away. We walk around the fountains in early dusk, we ready to hibernate.

I remember what I can and cannot keep.


I was talking to a friend about longing and hunger and grace. That something in us that attempts to take what we think we need, arrange our lives to dull the quiet ache of a heaviness that it was proved we could not carry, could never carry or fix.

Try to hold life and life. Try to make sense, and grieve what ends and give thanks always. Learn to receive what is new.


Even now, I think of the place far away, the place that I could not hold. The smell of incense as I walked home through the alleys in Tollygunge. Home from buying a coke at the corner store.

I walked by and saw the semi-circle of women sitting in the warm night air in their beautiful saris, singing. In the temple there, they sat most nights singing bhaktis with the accompaniment of a drum and the small finger cymbals. I looked in briefly and nodded to them, my neighbors. I watched a cat steal away into the maidan. I heard the running water of pans being washed in the narrow space outside Maya’s house, the single lightbulb shining, the voice of Momta talking to her little brother. The television flashed a bright Bollywood movie and mingled its songs with the singing of the women.

A Thursday night, community worship night. These times were some of my favorite. The singing together, sharing the word, a meal for hearts heavy and hungry. Bread of life. Dusk fell early there too, but the cold did not come. We sat on the rooftop smoking and talking. Memory and longing and hunger, joy and sorrow. A different equinox, a long time ago in another life.

I remember what I can and cannot keep.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Day full of blue sky. So full it had to end early. Not yet cold. We are on the cusp of big things today, tonight, forever. We but just now, we are are on our way to the lights.

Night falls. We take a pilgrimage from my house over to the softball fields in the park. A group walking with a yellow farm wagon; four kids madly waving glow sticks. Acorns litter the sidewalk and we crunch them underfoot. The night is warm on the edge of cool. The road traffic is a ruckus, cars playing a sort of pinball to secure parking spots and outsmart others stuck in the jam. It is gridlock; policemen are impatient with their directions and brusque conversations with people leaning out of their cars to find the source of the slow-down. On the road, no one wins.

Only those walking make it through to the lights and whistles. Somewhere along the way, Ollie gets exited as only a three and a half year old can, waving a glow stick and exclaiming with great triumph: I am SUPER MARIO!

We make it up to the place where the balloons are tethered to the ground and wade through the crowd. Those sitting and standing and milling, those trying to escape wagons and strollers. Past the junk stands selling plastic blow up hot air balloons and beads, paper parasols and all other manner of unrelated junk. We make it through to the inside, in the corridor where we are standing between the tall, soft, swaying silk balloons. Kick up the dust and look around, heads lifted to the glow and magical float of the balloons in the sky all around us.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


"We will be inheriting soon
real reality, all
the peace of the universe:
unending night and the still hugely nameless
majority of the stars." franz wright


It has not been found.
A lull—that is us…holding. Face in hands—
till we can’t see straight—
only spinning,
nothing but feedback.
Then everything stops except a
static noise whistling.
It all unravels.


In the beginning it was a surprise. It taught me how to write backwards. From the bottom to the top. I suppose because I could see the end of the story before the beginning. It has always made more sense to me to go from last to first--
Backwards story the pushing to used am I.


That night--music spinning,
I saw that this person was a whole new way
of seeing the earth and how
words could work and how
a life could be lived.
It was strange to see this now—this going backwards.
All I can say is something in me that understood time and love
and the proper way to tell a story
became undone.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

--w.s. merwin

With the night falling we are saying thank you
We are stopping on the bridge to bow from the railings
We are running out of the glass rooms
With our mouths full of food to look at the sky
And say thank you
We are standing by the water looking out in different directions

Back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
After funerals we are saying thank you
After the news of the dead
Whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
In a culture up to its chin in shame
Living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you

Over telephones we are saying thank you
In doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
Remembering wars and the police at the back door
And the beatings on the stairs we are saying thank you
In the banks that use us we are saying thank you
With the crooks in the office with the rich and fashionable
Unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you
With the animals dying around us
Our lost feelings we are saying thank you
With the forests falling faster than the minutes
Of our lives we are saying thank you
With the words going out like cells of a brain
With the cities growing over us like the earth
We are saying thank you faster and faster
With nobody listening we are saying thank you
We are saying thank you and waving
Dark though it is.
thoughts on mercy: "in wisdom you have made them all" (psalm 104)

we wait.
when the sun rises we can see it.
all that you have made in wisdom--
aching and shattered;
glorious ruins all around.
we are standing
with bated breath,
with wonder and grief together.

You breathed and set to life at the beginning,
You sustain all.
Breath wind sings through the trees,
makes dry bones come to life.
if withheld, man perishes.
in this i see mercy.
in this, a strange tenderness.

and so.
sing praises, sing praises.
even if they are small.

how long O LORD?
give ear to our prayers.
restore us, God Almighty.
let the light of your face shine upon us.
that we might live,
that we might be saved.

know that what is
and was
and will be,
even the language that begins to tell of it and gives it name--
comes from You.

bless the Lord, o my soul!