The piece to follow is so new, I might still be able to tell you a little about what was going on as it was happening. To begin with, these verses are cast in a special meter, one that came to me in Big dreams when I was a teenage girl. I only use it when I want to recall the mysterious feeling the dreams brought.
One stanza from the songs my dream-muse sang to me came to the waking world intact. I wrote it down immediately after the dream that brought it, so I am fairly sure this is faithful:
Oh, the snows are falling, falling
and the trees will never bloom.
I am not mistaken, calling–
I am travelling in tune.
The only part I was uncertain of–he may have said, ‘Mine is not mistaken calling.’ It’s probably both at the same time, where poems and dreams come from. Everything’s at once precise and shifty and fluid around here.
That poem came to me in 1976. ‘On Flying There’ came today. I wasn’t consciously thinking of the content of the original, only its rhythm; today’s content came very quickly, as if it had been waiting. And so it was–it’s obvious now that one poem refers to the other. The Other World knows what I am going to do before I do, because time is not real and holds no sway there.
The mystics have had plenty to say about paradox, and the language of paradox. I run into it too. We mortals take so many problems to our guardians, higher selves, deities, and many of them are genuinely hard to bear. For consolation, they show again and again that they have to the power, and so have mortals if we look quietly enough within, to flip a terrible situation inside-out by revealing its ultimate outcome. Frustratingly, the information to make that work seems to be out of range from here too much of the time.
According to the paradox perspective, most of the self is Elsewhere anyway, and knows that All Shall Be Well; maintain contact with it, and see, as if through its eyes, that the pain was a dream that has an end, and we are already at and beyond the end. Near Death experiencers have shared many accounts of horrific accidents–they say they were out of the damaged body before they knew what had happened, and only returned to it afterwards. Paradox conveys the ongoing revelation that all these dreaming illusions tend to have a 180-degree opposite that can flip into view at any time. Who does the flipping is the question, but we have as many answers as we have aspects of ourselves. Think of the wrathful Tibetan dharma guardians and their snarling, raging faces, their hands wielding dangerous tools. One must confront them in order to get past their forbidding appearances. As soon as one does, they reveal their ultimate compassion. ‘Ultimate’ seems to be as challenging to reach as one’s will has strength to reach it–until things flip over again.
I will probably be considering more dignified language than ‘flip,’ but that’s what was going through my head today around the time I sat down to work today.
15 February 2021
On Flying There
When you see her hand a little
farther out than yours can reach,
close your eyes and let yourself be
such a softly falling leaf,
the air beneath it pillows, cradles,
gently drifts it higher–high
as any bird with wide wings racing
home before her final sigh
escapes its mortal tenement and
meets it halfway through the air
she’ll next draw in, alive with essence
crossing from an everywhere
with creatures bearing blossoms by the
armful, smiling, singing sweet
confusion in a drift of shining
words her mind is glad to greet–
This is god’s own grand occasion
come to find its moment here
before she’s waited far too lately
long and lost the way most dear,
the one that led her past the altar
ancient lovers built to last.
They taught her how to fill her falling
leafy days with letters cast
her way by many friendly spirits
haunting now her flagging will.
When you see a hand a little
nearer venture, fall so still–
and feel the air beneath you lifting,
meeting with a different air.
Lover, in your skin–a drifting
leaf turns into flying there.
Poetry exists for itself, but if it has a purpose, this might be one–that those in any kind of pain, in need of a paradoxical sudden shift of view, should be able to find one here and follow it through–at least in a transient mental way–to a place beyond pain. It’s a window, and what I call a Paring. It’s also a practice. One gets better at it by being hopelessly patient and persistent.