Friday, December 9, 2011

Guest Post: 2 poems over tea

Yesterday I wound up sitting in a Georgetown tea house with a dead cell phone battery and no other forms of diversion. I hadn't yet meditated, and was feeling a bit scattered. So I decided to try to really be present for the experience of drinking the tea -- dong ding oolong -- which, by the way, is really tasty. Pouring the tea, smelling the aroma, sipping it, steeping again... this all became a kind of meditation.

I began to feel like writing down some of what I was experiencing. I wrote:

water evaporates from the surface of a red clay teapot and steams away into the room-air
heat emanating from within
fragrant leaves
awaiting transformation
their subtle elixir
dripping in odd dropped batches
awaiting, in a porcelain cup
to journey into me and become me
indistinguishable from me
and flow through me
part of my form
my flesh and fluid
some to my bones and some to my blood

i patiently await the tea leaves letting go their secret
over and over
little by little
until it's gone from them
those organic vessels
and inside me
unknown to me
not the conscious me
but directed by me
to these remote inner spaces
vast distances

when quiet
these spaces speak
in faint colored voices with indescribable hues and textures
not well charted
not well understood
but standing, nonetheless
on subtle, solid intuition

i listen
i hear what's inside of every sentient thing
and feel the pulse of life where the tea leaves reach

I put my pen down for just a moment before I felt like writing something else. I remembered an experience I'd had on a night run near the National Cathedral. I had begun imagining what it would be like if, like the scene in "It's a Wonderful Life" where Clarence speaks in the heavens and his star radiates light, people's spirits resided in fuller form in the stars and each had their own unique character and feel.

And then I wrote this:

i see in the stars
on a dim, deep night, running
a spectral show
of strong forces,
unknown and unseen
until now
by me

pure essences of spirits
past and present
the best in each
without weakness, unwavering
in true colors and truest nature
what each in life could have reached
had it not been encumbered

and fearful
and all of this projected into the infinite sky

some still whispering with icy clarity and cutting precision
some thunderous with a force to move oceans
some gentle, cool indigo
even the tremorous jolt of the warriors righteous rage
some burning low and steady like the lamp's glow
others receptive
enlivening even the dourest depressor

potent spirits
all aglow
interwoven and dancing
present, active
high above my highest pursuits
but always within view
especially during night runs

what am I like projected into the night sky?
my best self
a fleet footed messenger flashing about
a cosmic seed sower
a cool, even river
a green, glowing ember
a silence, a depth
a builder
a voice full of motion
am i all of these things or none?

ghosts of guidance
mysteries of love
speak to the runners
the walkers
and sleepers
speak to the doubters
and the believers
speak with a voice true and brilliant
of the space you inhabit and the light you direct

I'm not much of a poet, but this little writing exercise was very invigorating. I left the tea house in a completely different state of mind than I'd entered with, contented and excited at the same time. These poems have been on my mind since then, and I wonder why I don't make a habit of stopping and noting experiences more often. There's a real richness there when I look, and the process of writing seems to bring that out.

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