Each Minute the Last

11951312_1198925466800331_3990099488883249004_nphoto of Watson Lakes in the North Cascades by Benjamin Janicki

The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.
~Denise Levertov

creeper29145

To think that this meaningless thing was ever a rose,
Scentless, colourless, this!
Will it ever be thus (who knows?)
Thus with our bliss,
If we wait till the close?

Though we care not to wait for the end, there comes the end
Sooner, later, at last,
Which nothing can mar, nothing mend:
An end locked fast,
Bent we cannot re-bend.
~Christina Rossetti “Summer is Ended”

homerose

As now school buses drone past the farm,
no longer bearing our children away to greater knowledge,
as they each have caught rides far beyond my reach.
I recall each first day of school feels like a day of mourning
each “last” of summer a loss, each ending so bent
I find no strength to bend it back carefree,
and I must learn, once more, with each “last”,
how fleeting the bliss of this life.

backsidebriarcroft

So Gruntled

josekelsy

TOSHIBA Exif JPEG

I was introduced to the word gruntled  a few years ago and instantly knew what it was meant to describe– that unsurpassed feeling of contentment.

 

the rumbling vibration of a cat’s purr,
flannel sheets warmed when wind and snow blur,

a filling meal of fresh home grown food
a cow chewing cud, eyes closed in serene mood,

the slow wakening after a full night’s sleep,
a pig’s wallow in cool mud so deep,

the low-throated nicker of a mare to her foal,
a tub of warm water when muscles exert a toll,

the sucking hungry baby in rocking chair bliss,
a cuddle in jammies before bed with a book not to miss.
~Emily Gibson

 

And so every day, I seek the momentary and fleeting bliss of gruntlement.  So simple, so honest, so true, so gruntled.

Tonyasleep1

pigsleep

homer3

 

When Flowers Were Suns

dandysunset

The world slipped bright over the glassy round of his eyeballs like images sparked in a crystal sphere. Flowers were suns and fiery spots of sky strewn throughout the woodland. Birds flickered like skipped stones across the cast inverted pond of heaven. His breath raked over his teeth, going in ice, coming out fire.
~Ray Bradbury from Dandelion Wine

Shimmering Bliss

hydrangealace3

I became aware of the world’s tenderness,
the profound beneficence of all that surrounded me,
the blissful bond between me and all of creation,
and I realized that the joy I sought …
breathed around me everywhere…
in the metallic yet tender drone of the wind,
in the autumn clouds bloated with rain.

I realized that the world does not represent a struggle at all…
a predaceous sequence of chance events,
but shimmering bliss,
beneficent trepidation,
a gift bestowed on us and unappreciated.

~Vladimir Nabokov from his story “Beneficence”

hydrangeaturning

hydrangealace

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The Ravaged Field

Photo of Moore Oklahoma following May 20 earthquake taken by Steve Gooch for the Associated Press
Aerial photo of Moore Oklahoma following May 20 earthquake taken by Steve Gooch for the Associated Press

Yes, long shadows go out
from the bales; and yes, the soul
must part from the body:
what else could it do?

…These things happen … the soul’s bliss
and suffering are bound together
like the grasses …

The last, sweet exhalations
of timothy and vetch
go out with the song of the bird;
the ravaged field
grows wet with dew.
~Jane Kenyon from “Twilight: After Haying”

Celebration is a sign of life in the rubble, the bliss of those arising from an ash heap to walk and breathe again.  Heartache is the sight of death in the rubble, the suffering of those trapped and crushed by a roaring force too immense to imagine yet devastatingly real.

Bliss and suffering are bound together like the grasses; we are grasses torn from our roots, ravaged.

Tears flow as they must, wetting the stubble left behind like dew.  We weep in sorrow for those lost; we weep in joy for those spared.

What else can a soul do but weep at parting and weep at welcoming?

These things happen, oh yes, these awe-full awful things, they happen.

Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
~Psalm 103: 15

Sweet and Sour Air

photo of Mt. Rainier sunrise by Kathy Yates
photo of Mt. Rainier sunrise by Kathy Yates

In Summer, in a burst of summertime
Following falls and falls of rain,
When the air was sweet-and-sour of the flown fineflower of
Those goldnails and their gaylinks that hang along a lime;
~Gerard Manley Hopkins from “Cheery Beggar”

Sweet and sour extends far beyond a Chinese menu; it is the daily air I breathe.  Dichotomy is so much of my life and times,  more distinct than the bittersweet of simple pleasures laced with twinges and tears.

I am but a cheery beggar in this world, desiring to hang tight to the overwhelming sweetness of each glorious moment — the startling sunrise, the lush green and golden blooms following spring showers, the warm hug of a compassionate word, the house filled with love and laughter.  But as beggars aren’t choosers, I can’t only have sweet alone;  I must endure the sour that comes as part of the package — the deepening dark of a sleepless night, the muddy muck of endless rain, the sting of a biting critique, the loneliness of an home emptying and much too quiet.

So I slog through sour to revel some day, even more so, in sweet.  Months of manure-permeated air is overcome one miraculous morning by the unexpected and undeserved fragrance of apple blossoms, so sweet, so pure, so full of promise of the fruit to come.  The manure makes the sweet sweeter.

And I breathe in deeply, content and grateful for a moment of grace and bliss, wanting to hold it in the depths of my lungs forever.

photo by Kathy Yates
photo by Kathy Yates
angel trumpet plant
angel trumpet plant courtesy of HGTV
gravensteinapril
apple blossoms

Last Sweet Exhalations

photo by Josh Scholten

These things happen…the soul’s bliss
and suffering are bound together
like the grasses….

The last, sweet exhalations
of timothy and vetch
go out with the song of the bird;
the ravaged field
grows wet with dew.
~Jane Kenyon from Twilight–After Haying

 

So bound together–the sweetness and the suffering.
I have seen it in others and known it myself.

Renewal and rebirth come from ravage.

Already I am emptying out, not yet filling full from the lungs of eternity.
Breathing will be easy one day, so fresh, so cleansing, so infinite.

Until then,
I’m holding my breath tightly,
blessed by that last, sweet gasp.

photo by Josh Scholten