Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved

Resurrection of the body of the beloved,
Which is the world
Which is the poem
Of the world, the poem of the body.

Mortal ourselves and filled with awe,
we gather the scattered limbs
Of Osiris.
That he should live again.
That death not be oblivion.

When I open the book
I hear the poets whisper and weep,
Laugh and lament.

In a thousand languages
They say the same thing:
“We lived. The secret of life
is love, that casts its wing
over all suffering, that takes
in its arms the hurt child,
that rises green from the fallen seed.”

Sadness is there, too.
All the sadness in the world.
Because the tide ebbs,
Because wild waves
Punish the shore
And the small lives lived there.
Because the body is scattered.
Because death is real
And sometimes death is not
Even the worst of it.

If sadness did not run
Like a river through the Book,
Why would we go there?
What would we drink?

Oh, there’s blood enough, and sap
From the stalks. Tears, too.
A raindrop and the dark water
Of bogs. It’s a rich ink.
Indelible, invisible
(hold up the page to the light,
hold the page near a flame).

The world comes into the poem.
The poem comes into the world.
Reciprocity – it all comes down
To that.
As with lovers:
When it’s right you can’t say
Who is kissing whom.

Lighten up, lighten up.
Let go of the heaviness.
Was it a poem from the Book
That so weighed you down?

Impossible. Less than a feather.
Less than the seed a milkweed
Pod releases in the breeze.

Lifted, it drifts out to settle
In a field, with all that’s inside it
Waiting to become
Root and tendril, to come alive.

Now the snow is falling
Even more than an hour ago.
The pine in the backyard
Bows with the weight of it.

Two years ago, my father
Died. What love we had
Hidden under misery,
Weighed down with years
Of silence.

And now,
Maybe the poem can free
Us, maybe the poem can express
The love and let the rest
Slide to the earth as the snow
Does now, freeing the tree
Of its burden.

To be alive: not just the carcass
But the spark.
That’s crudely put, but . . .

If we’re not supposed to dance,
Why all this music?

Time to shut up.
Voltaire said the secret
Of being boring
Is to say everything.

And yet I held
Back about love
All those years:
Talking about death
Insistently, even
As I was alive;
Talking about loss
As if all was loss,
As if the world
Did not return
Each morning.
As if the beloved
Didn’t long for us.

No wonder I go on
So. I go on so
Because of the wonder.

~ Gregory Orr ~

Lead

Here is a story
to break your heart.
Are you willing?
This winter
the loons came to our harbor
and died, one by one,
of nothing we could see.
A friend told me
of one on the shore
that lifted its head and opened
the elegant beak and cried out
in the long, sweet savoring of its life
which, if you have heard it,
you know is a sacred thing,
and for which, if you have not heard it,
you had better hurry to where
they still sing.
And, believe me, tell no one
just where that is.
The next morning
this loon, speckled
and iridescent and with a plan
to fly home
to some hidden lake,
was dead on the shore.
I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Testimony

(for my daughters)

I want to tell you that the world
is still beautiful.
I tell you that despite
children raped on city streets,
shot down in school rooms,
despite the slow poisons seeping
from old and hidden sins
into our air, soil, water,
despite the thinning film
that encloses our aching world.
Despite my own terror and despair.

I want you to know that spring
is no small thing, that
the tender grasses curling
like a baby’s fine hairs around
your fingers are a recurring
miracle. I want to tell you
that the river rocks shine
like God, that the crisp
voices of the orange and gold
October leaves are laughing at death,

I want to remind you to look
beneath the grass, to note
the fragile hieroglyphs
of ant, snail, beetle. I want
you to understand that you
are no more and no less necessary
than the brown recluse, the ruby-
throated hummingbird, the humpback
whale, the profligate mimosa.
I want to say, like Neruda,
that I am waiting for
“a great and common tenderness”,
that I still believe
we are capable of attention,
that anyone who notices the world
must want to save it.

~ Rebecca Baggett ~

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