Each Day’s Distance

comments 35
Poetry

Two, three—call it four decades on,
and I’m both better and worse.
I’ve settled into it
in the way that precedes disappearance,
as if I was placed in the back
of an otherwise empty cabinet,
sheltered by the presence of wood,
where I’ve become a study
in knowing something more
that you can only glimpse
in the repair of oily machinery,
or the bailing of water from a low spot on the land
where two surveyors once had a stare down.
I used to swear when the leather strap
on which everything momentarily hinged,
broke.  I used to flinch and stumble backwards
and send the wooden stool flying.
Now I know when the whole thing buckles,
it means we’ve reconsidered.
Now I’m not going after it,
and it’s not coming after me.
We’re just both wounded with each other,
our needs infused in ways you can’t undo.
Each day is a landscape
painted with the mixed-up visions that spill out of us.
We work it from both sides, sifting.
The dawn is the signal that sets us out
into the sound of wings taking flight
and hooves dashing through leaves–
the spooked markers of our passage
into one another.
To get back to the beginning.
It’s a traverse we haven’t quite managed,
though sometimes we catch a glimpse
of one another on opposite horizons,
our shadows framed by fire–
all our beauty poised in an outcropping
that’s hung over the edge
with only one way in or out.
Unless you count disappearing.
I stop, looking up from
the collection of rusted hinges
I’ve spread out on a barrel head,
and there you are,
transfigured up on today’s holy heights,
while all around me
the unwieldy weights of silence
have paused to pay their respects.

The path through the field
matters more than ever now.
Every curve and stone has a name,
but not ones that I’ve given them–
rather, the ones they showed me,
ones that cannot be spoken.
They’re images that spontaneously reconstruct
to tug at my chest and limbs
when the sun and the clouds
are suddenly balanced inside the other.
Each image is the most meaningful excerpt
of history for that one being–
like the face of yours I saw once
at the bottom of a valley,
in a stream that laid flat
beneath a dull sky,
your eyes turned down,
your lips pursed–
the one moment I lifted
from a whole life of hoping
that no one saw because I turned away
just before the light came,
turned into this landscape we share,
the one I’m talking about here.
It was that one face,
held between us,
motionless,
that gave sadness
a safe place to rest,
a low point in the field
where it could collect
into rippled reflections.

I’m both better and worse now,
but none of that really matters.
We get better and worse as we go.
It’s the meaning that has changed.
Each day is a landscape
of the visions that spilled out of our wounds,
and knowing time is only the distance between us,
I hike farther now than ever before
up into these canyons,
pushing the day to its limits before I buckle,
to find you,
and rest your head upon my knee,
and place water upon your lips,
so we can sink into nightfall
together,
at the end,

when we disappear.

35 Comments

    • Hi Rajani,

      You’ve captured this feeling perfectly. Endlessness held in an instant. Yet it’s an instant that makes no sense without a few decades of living inside of it…

      Michael

      Liked by 3 people

    • Namaste, Dennis… Yes, we continue to write our way deeper into each other, digging out the glory we find, to haul it up on shore where it sparkles in the sun… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mary,

      Yes, you understand this… The moment standing in the field with the mitt on my hand, crouched over in readiness for a grounder, and the moment standing in the field with the flower in my hand, thinking of what will be when this has all disappeared, are part of a continuum. Meaning emerges and transforms as we discover one another. I think this is the true measure of time… our discovery of one another…

      Peace to you also,
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

    • Michael , ” now I’m not going after it , and it’s not coming after me ” …the beauty of those lines released me from something immense that I fail to be able to explain ….and ” the path through the field matters more than ever now ” has me weeping ….that field is immense ….thank you my dear friend as I sit at my table this cool autumn morning trying to write ….love , megxxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Meg,

        I’m savoring the sweetness of your release. I think this sensation of release is universal… the content of the moment that pinned us down is so personal and so inexplicable, and yet the moment of release so universal. We know this feeling… We share this feeling… I loved the line you did, too, about the field mattering more than ever. It’s good to admit it. Right here, I’m reduced to tears, because everything suddenly matters so much, now that I’m free to truly see it…

        And I had a chance to read your latest from my phone earlier. Will be dropping by to read it again. You did far more than try to write!

        Peace
        Michael

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I shall save this to reread again, so much woven in this tale, the changes of time and any comment I have cannot do justice to the excellence found within your masterpiece. K

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Kim. Reserve it for your next walk through the woods, when you are surrounded by the flurry of wings and the scuffle of hooves… Were you able to see that moon last night? That red eclipse was incredible… like a cosmic rooibos tea!

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good morning Michael, yes the moon was quite the show off , and the tea reference gave me a light smile, haven’t had that tea in years but now that you mention it, the perfect shade for a toast with the moon and the shadows😊 that kept him company. I believe I saw the last one in 82, as a young girl starting high school and realizing the changes of life, eclipses always excite yet a tiny bit fear thrown in of the unknown and the cycles of life we all will move through, light to,shadows and through🌕☀️🌎
        Peace and blessings my friend, Kim

        Liked by 1 person

        • ’82 rings a bell Kim. I have a scar on my forearm, now very feint, from standing outside with my second grade classmates when a friend whirled around and tried to grab my arm, and grazed me with a fingernail. It was the day we were all outside under the carport, watching what must have been a solar eclipse. ’82 would be about the right year for this to have happened, and I remember distinctly us all out there staring at the sky… I have the scars to prove it! Ha!

          Peace to you also,
          Michael

          Liked by 1 person

          • Won’t be another till 2033 or something like that. I hope I can still see at that age when the time comes😀if not, I’ll just go to sleep early and dream of yesterday’s eclipse…and the stars too as always😀 your classmate must have been part tiger, huh? Big claws to leave marks….☺️ have an amazing day my friend, K

            Liked by 1 person

            • It’s so weird the things that leave marks, sometimes… Hope you had an amazing day, too. I’ve been traveling to and fro for work this week and a little delayed in catching up… I think there’s a decent chance we’re dreaming this all up anyway, Kim… 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

            • I love dreaming….except last night I might have been a man, or changing into one….my dreams….sometimes I wake and wonder…now what was THAT all about, then I laugh and go back to sleep and do it all over again…but I’m always aware of what I’m dreaming….maybe it is all a dream….besides, I kind of like being a girl, ya know😊 drive safe friend and no speeding….have a lovely weekend😊

              Liked by 1 person

    • That’s it, David. Feeling both better and worse, we can accompany one another on the way without judgment, and with a warmth for whatever comes. Like you say, it is not so different than it has always been… yet it is so beautiful all the same…

      Much Love
      Michael

      Like

  2. Happy Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Aries, Michael! I just had to say it, not to shift the tone/subject, but to be aware of the passage :):) And, because we are friends. I’m so happy to share these experiences that we all have, to be here together; timelessness. From which angle are we looking, from which life-form, in which era? Doesn’t matter. Is it meaningful? Very Much So! This poem of yours reminds me of the popular Rumi poem,

    “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
    and rightdoing there is a field.
    I’ll meet you there.

    When the soul lies down in that grass
    the world is too full to talk about.”
    ― Rumi

    I hopefully still have half of my 3rd decade left (although no one promised me), but the passage of time makes it so that I feel every grain of sand that lands in the hourglass. Decisions are more precious. Time is ever moreso precious. I also think of this quote, “Youth is wasted on the young.” George Bernard Shaw. Then, I remember, it’s all a matter of perspective; the young are wiser somehow in their own ways. Living inside the reality of the outside defining us as we age…as we accumulate wrinkles and details, things that show up, things that we gain and lose, illness. This can age us if we allow it.

    Particularly poignant to me: “where I’ve become a study
    in knowing something more
    that you can only glimpse
    in the repair of oily machinery,”

    Much Love,
    Ka

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hello Ka!

      I’m excited to share this lunar moment with you also. I stood in the backyard last night, looking up through the trees as the last sliver of glowing moon was driven off the edge, and that gray-amber fire was all that remained. It was really beautiful. I love to think of all the pairs of eyes and hearts that were joined in that moment…

      Your point about having the remainder of your third decade left is an interesting one. I was starting a small sales company in my late twenties that amounted to a lot of acquired skills– at not small cost. But I used to tell myself– in five years sure this will all be turned around… 🙂 It didn’t work out the way I hoped, but probably worked out quite well in ways I could never have expected, and the experiences always serve us going forward. As I wrote this piece, I was also feeling that we have eternity ahead of us, behind us, besides us… and if we can truly settle into that realization how it changes my feelings about time. But also the moments right here are so important– the ones that call to us, the moments in which we emerge and expand and spread our wings, the moments in which we make a difference to one another. Eternity and proximity have quite a thing going… 🙂

      Love to you also–
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You touch on so many truths, I’d need a post length comment like Ka Malana’s to respond. I’ll say what struck me the most, “we get better and worse as we go.” Hear, hear. x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Sabiscuit. Your presence speaks volumes, and you managed to catch hold of lines that for me were at the heart of this one… I’m glad to have shared in this sentiment with you…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “I’m both better and worse now, but none of that really matters.”– Michael, you seem to be echoing Freddie Mercury and Albert Camus! Freddie somewhat plagiarised Albert, or rather paid homage to him, and in turn you do the latter to what we all are experiencing, notwithstanding our judgements, predilections, dispositions and so forth. Let us all just lead a good life, care for one another, and see what happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree wholeheartedly with your closing thought, Hariod. It is amazing the extent to which the experience of life can drive a wedge between ourselves and the simple goodness of caring for one another.

      I’d have to do some research to fully “grok” the allusions you’ve offered. I read Camus’ The Stranger in high school and have wondered from time to time about reading it again. I think I will put it on the list after I finish Mason & Dixon. I’ve been reading this book forever. I’m basically reading a chapter every night or so, and there’s probably 80 of them if there’s one. They’re great nightcaps… 🙂

      But I wonder in what sense you see the connection? I remember the Stranger as being poignantly hollow– like I was hovering over some sort of meaninglessness but never quite fell in, and so it was this shimmering feeling. But I also was only fifteen years old, and possessed only limited context for fielding Camus’ work…

      Thank you as always for sharing your sentiments here, Hariod!

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • The words to Bohemian Rhapsody do indeed allude to both Meursault’s murdering of the Arab on the beach in The Stranger and also Meursault’s frame of mind:

        “Mama, just killed a man . . . Mama, life had just begun, but now I’ve gone and thrown it all away. . . Nothing really matters; anyone can see, nothing really matters; nothing really matters to me. Anyway the wind blows.”

        – Freddie Mercury

        So, Freddie is saying that in the end we all die, and what will be, will be. What is more, ‘anyone can see’ this.

        “. . . in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself – so like a brother, really – I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again.”

        – Meursault.

        For Mersualt, in his reflecting upon the fact that we all die (whilst he awaits his execution), he understands that accepting our own (here too, the prison Chaplain’s) ideas and interpretations of what then happens as irrelevant; one can be happy and, once again, say ‘what will be will be’, or ‘anyway the wind blows’.

        Of course, these are commonly seen as absurdist points of view, that life in fact has meaning and purpose, and that whilst there is a certain integrity in being true to oneself as Meursault does, the moral dimension of life is critically important – whether or not there is an afterlife, or metaphysical continuation. That would be my position too, or another way of saying that I do not believe in metaphysical beliefs which can only ever be inferences, at best. This is it, now, and if I believe in anything at all, it is just this.

        Hariod ❤

        Like

        • I think I’m tracking with you, Hariod. I think what is being described here is in essence a surrender to the way things are. The notion that we all die eventually is basically a synonym for the notion that what we do or don’t do is always trumped by this ultimate eventuality. We’re left with the two choices you mention: to follow this down the path of absurdism, where nothing very much matters; or it can be infused with a moral urgency almost, arising from what feels to me like an absolution from being responsible for creating oneself in some particular vein through accomplishment and artifice. Freed of these time-consuming pursuits, and accepting the ultimate nature of things, what is left, obviously, like a flower upon the trail, is virtue.

          I would be inclined to the latter as well, if I have re-formulated it acceptably in my own terms. (It helps me to know I can say the same thing three different ways and not confuse the other party in any of the various formulations. If this can be done, and particularly if the exercise results in expanded understanding for the both of us– then and only then do I propose we may be understanding these nuances we’re trying to pass back and forth.) Though as you know, my internal dial of metaphysical settings may be rotated to a position slightly more inferential than your own. Does that mean I form beliefs based solely on inference? I’m not sure that it does, but now we need to explore this idea of believing without inference in at least three ways to be sure we are saying the same thing… 🙂

          A joy, as always, to explore the near shores of the ultimate with you, Hariod!
          Michael

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Tumbling down through the lines and I see this as I’m falling: ‘Each day is a landscape’. A window opens on to this ‘fantastic’ reality or ‘magic realism’ of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. ‘The path through the field matters more than ever now. Every curve and stone has a name, but not ones that I’ve given them–rather, the ones they showed me…’ It enables me to create my own path through the field…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tiramit. Glad you found some resonance in this piece… The world can take on this quality of magic realism in a subtle way when we realize the extent to which it is merely the tip of the proverbial berg– merely the hat of the rider who is being carried upon a vast, invisible horse! And yes to creating our own path to the field– for having a direct encounter with that magic in the spaciousness of our own heart…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Way to go Michael, you are hitting a heart string and not a nerve – your writing is painfree and absolutely haunting and moving. I got a little misty on this, lots of reasons – doesn’t matter why, but I did and it felt good. Peace, Harlon

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Harlon,

      I’m grateful you’ve shared these sentiments here, and to know these feelings have flown across the land and struck a chord. We’re stitching it all together, here and there, through moments of freedom given and received…

      Blessings
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this one. This in particular, though all small parts are always the whole. *nods*.

    “Now I’m not going after it,
    and it’s not coming after me.
    We’re just both wounded with each other,
    our needs infused in ways you can’t undo.”

    – sonmi upon the Cloud

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sonmi.

      Yes, every least, tiniest part is somehow the whole. It is amazing how that works. Stars and nerve cells are blood brothers. Worms and dried straw are echoes of the very same thing. The Cloud has such a lovely perspective… 🙂

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

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