Everything grew too much over the holidays because of the neighborhood issue I have alluded to earlier, and it affected my health pretty badly. Friends recognized that I was beyond merely stressed out, and got help for me. All’s well, but it was a very strange passage, and I am still partly in the middle of it. The lesson so far is–gratitude, obviously–but something else as well.
This is something I have been trying to articulate for a while. We all want big-time Enlightenment, Revelation, whatever you prefer to call it; if we are on an active spiritual path at all, of course the big show is on our list. But we know to look out for the great in the small at all times, because that is how spirit usually comes through. Simple to say; more difficult to enact.
My insight runs along these lines, but it focuses specifically on beauty. ‘Beauty.’ The Beauty of the Romantic Poets. I respond to it, even though I have never really known what it is. I now wish to reconsider whatever I might have thought I knew.
‘Beauty’ was special, exceptional by definition. It meant something that was aesthetically perfect, or nearly so. Ordinary people with pleasant, attractive features could be pretty, but not really beautiful, because beauty would not mean anything if there were that much of it. So I screened out most of humanity when I considered The Beautiful. And most of everything else, as well, always holding out for something really rare. That would be a sign that I was right in my ideas, and should carry on screening.
And then I went on a several-decades-long poetic journey. And–here I am. Having seen and heard more amazing outlandish beauty than I will ever have time to slow down and talk about in prose. And wanting little more than to be ordinary and do ordinary things among people who never screened all that out in favor of something supernally weird. Or better still, people who did, but returned successfully, and now see what they were looking for everywhere they turn.
The point was not the rare, perfect, complete, enduring Beauty. The point, if there even is one, is simple that Beauty is everywhere. No one is perfect, and wouldn’t stay that way if they were. But the world is full of perfect, beautiful wrists, and eyelids, and little fingers, and little, unbearably perfect square-inch bit of skin behind knees and so on and on forever. The great is in the small. Tiny lawn flowers are as wise as roses and lotuses and far more likely to cross your path in a friendly way.
But there’s knowing, and there’s knowing. It’s all reverberating pretty strongly for me right now; it will sink in. When it has, I intend to watch out for the beautiful when it signals from any place, and weave it in. As always. But more consciously. And patiently. Poems always get there first.
6 January 2021
She sat with her head down for such a long time I grew worried, but when she looked up and all round,
she saw mirror-images–plate-glass and spheres that were silvered in slivers and smashed on the ground,
and she understood all in a flash from the smooth curving razor-sharp side of an orb as once was–
there’s a margin for lyrical error, but knowing the beautiful is as the beautiful does–
that is cheerfully–everywhere here in her suddenly-recognized presence–like snow on the lawn,
a drift of unknowable numbers become solemn innocence littered by gathering dawn-
light sparking the literal millions of angles held out as to capture the warmth coming through–
with no thought of thawing, just innocent knowledge of oceans of rain and soft, new-fallen dew–
and I understood what she was seeing as well: The horizon’s too far and the light is too strong;
the few who can carry their own lantern there nearly never return with a full line of song;
they dwindle their scanty resources as fast as they rush to discover they aren’t even there,
the sensitive singers who dreamt of a throng of admirers who’d find them alight in mid-air,
and then soared through the flames in the brief middle-distance and fell to the Earth in a thin rain of ash.
This is no nurturing substance; it leaves a faint stain, then it fades; it’s a fallen eyelash
on the face that’s been turned to the last place it countenanced beauty–so precious and rare, was it real?
Only the last gleam of faraway starlight behind her fine profile permits her to feel
it might rise again from the stray bits that shine where the early Sun strikes for an instant–if she
waits patiently nurturing faith beyond faith that the Light she once saw is the light she will see–
if he opens his own eyes the way he’s been waiting to know his long vigil will soon end in tears
as the beauty he dreamt of beholding has oceans within it whose rising will soothe–weary years….
Then she nodded again, and her lowered eyes stared at the tiny white flowers amidst the glass snow.
Forming a web shooting out like chain-lightning–wherever she looked, bits of beauty would glow,
the living in league with the lovely man-made, on a green stretch of lawn she once danced on–and would.
Then she’ll walk on and grow weary all over again, but the end of the story is good
as foretold–because she’s brought her whole will and shoulder to drive it toward nothing less–and she’s won
enough of a gallant concession the sky of the midnight stretched over her wants to let run
till he’s visible, leaking a little strange light from a far lyric province known only to him–
and its rightful inhabitants. Maybe they tell their own tales of the visitor, one slightly dim
by their standards, but brilliant for having discovered so much of their secretive journeys and ways–
as well as the dreamt-of location where someone sat watchfully waiting, her own wreaths and lays
having long been prepared for his eerie arrival–the tiny spark-lights, in the grass, on the ground–
A beautiful stranger reveals his true face in each one. When she listens, the faces resound.