Wednesday, April 24, 2013

out-of-body travel at thirteen

Thanks to a very wonderful teacher, John Darby, I was invited to read a few poems at Sky Lake in Rosendale, NY, a Shambhala Center for meditation at the end of a meditation weekend recently. This is one of the poems. The other, "a far and pure wilderness" is also in this blog if you search for that title.

["out-of-body travel at thirteen" was published in the towards euphoria chapbook from Seven Kitchens Press as the winner of the Editor's Prize a year or two ago. This is actually the end of a long series of poems. The story was also a prose story that was published a long time ago. It can be found through this link: “Out-of-body travel at thirteen,”]

[Eighth-grader Jeff’s side of the story:]
I snapped like a branch
and was released—
as if a tree had a soul
that flew away
when its boughs
were broken,
sky absorbed me
like a breath exhaled
despite cars, blacktop
and careless passersby,
a peace held me
like a cloud
sustaining ice
in its mist—
I felt like
a sapling
that remembers
its ancestor forest,
its millions
of green lives
in each tree,
each rooting
into other lives,
each racing
rival life-forms,
parasites grinding
pulp leaves
to worms’ food,
warm and cold-blooded
voices, mammals
moved by hunger,
rage, lust, fear—   
I understood
but was free
from the struggle
to be fed by sunlight,
water, air—   
the spirit
each body holds
was one with me,
yet I was
as free from self
as from body
and in the ether
I saw my self too
with all its flaws
before it could sl-
am shut its
small gates of
mind again—
I saw
what I was
while you
could see only
the shell of me,
and I had to choose
to be thrown in
the tangles of
life again—
I wasn’t prodded back
this time—
my body dragged me
in its heavy waves,
but the ether
still filled me
like a sail
until I ached
all over me,
suddenly a body— 
bewildered, diminished...
But then,
back in me
as if for the first time,
I grasped
that the soul
is not beyond,
across or through us—
it is us—
it is us
and I was
so moved to see
in your eyes
the farthest
purest wilderness


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