“Revelation Must Be Terrible”
by David Whyte
Revelation must be
terrible with no time left
to say goodbye.
Imagine that moment
staring at the still waters
with only the brief tremor
of your body to say
you are leaving everything
and everyone you know behind.
Being far from home is hard, but you know,
at least we are exiled together.
When you open your eyes to the world
you are on your own for
the first time. No one is
even interested in saving you now
and the world steps in
to test the calm fluidity of your body
from moment to moment
as if it believed you could join
its vibrant dance
of fire and calmness and final stillness.
As if you were meant to be exactly
where you are, as if
like the dark branch of a desert river
you could flow on without a speck
of guilt and everything
everywhere would still be just as it should be.
As if your place in the world mattered
and the world could
neither speak nor hear the fullness of
its own bitter and beautiful cry
without the deep well
of your body resonating in the echo.
Knowing that it takes only
that one, terrible
word to make the circle complete,
revelation must be terrible
knowing you can
never hide your voice again.
Excerpt from “Magdalene – The Seven Devils”
by Marie Howe
“Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven devils had been cast out” – Luke 8:2
Ok. The first was that. I could never get to the end of the list.
The second was that the laundry was never finally done.
The third was that no one knew me, although they thought they did.
And that if people thought of me as little as I thought of them then what was love?
The fourth was I didn’t belong to anyone. I wouldn’t allow myself to belong to anyone.
The fifth was that I knew none of us could ever know what we didn’t know.
The sixth was that I projected onto others what I myself was feeling.
The seventh was the way my mother looked when she was dying,
the sound she made – her mouth wrenched to the right and cupped open
so as to take in as much air… the gurgling sound, so loud
we had to speak louder to hear each other over it.
And that I couldn’t stop hearing it – years later- grocery shopping, crossing the street-
No, not the sound – it was her body’s hunger
finally evident – what our mother had hidden all her life.
For months I dreamt of knucklebones and roots,
the slabs of sidewalk pushed up like crooked teeth by what grew underneath.
The underneath. That was the first devil. It was always with me
And that I didn’t think you – if I told you – would understand any of this-
“A Dead Thing That, in Dying, Feeds the Living”
by Donika Kelly
I’ve been thinking about the anatomy
of the egg, about the two interior membranes,
the yolk held in place by the chalazae, gases
moving through the semipermeable shell.
A curious phrase, the anatomy of the egg,
as if an egg were a body, which it is,
as if the egg could be broken then mended,
which, depending on your faith, broken yes,
but mended? Well. Best to start
again, with a new body, voided
from a warmer one, brooded and turned.
Better to begin as if some small-handed
animal hadn’t knocked you against a rock,
licked clean the rich yolk and left
the albumen to dry in the sun — as if a hinged
jaw hadn’t swallowed you whole.
What I wanted: a practice that reassured
that what was cracked could be mended
or, at least, suspended so that it could not spread.
But now I wonder: better to be the egg or scaled
mandible? The small hand or the flies, bottle black
and green, spilling their bile onto whatever’s left,
sweeping the interior, drinking it clean?
I think, something might have grown there, though
I know it was always meant to be eaten,
it was always meant to spoil.
by Kahlil Gibran
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life,
your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted
the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of
the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.
“The Holy Longing”
Tell a wise person or else keep silent
for those who do not understand
will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive
what longs to be burned to death.
In the calm waters of the love nights
where you were begotten, where you have begotten
a strange feeling creeps over you
as you watch the silent candle burning.
Now you are no longer caught
in the obsession with darkness
and a desire for higher lovemaking
sweeps you upwards.
Distance does not make you falter,
now, arriving in magic, flying
and finally insane for the light
you are the butterfly, and you are gone.
And so long as you have not experienced
this: to die and so to grow
you are only a troubled guest
on this dark earth.
by Dawna Markova
I will not die an unlived life,
I will not live in fear
Of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days
To allow my living to open me,
To make me less afraid,
To loosen my heart
Until it becomes a wing,
A torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance; to live
So that which came to me as seed
Goes to the next as blossom
And that which came to be as blossom
Goes on as fruit.
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.