Poetry is many things: the meaning within the words, the meaning below, or above. A poem is an object, a form, with negative space and silence as important as the black marks and the telepathy that occurs when we interpret them.
Poetry is breath, the only thing we cannot survive more than a few minutes without. And sound: one of life’s grand gifts.
Something I have come to love during this project is the way a poem feels in my mouth, the way it tastes. That is why, in part, today’s poem is important to me.
It’s been a rough year: illness and death, and, the just damn hard existence it is farming, and living in rural Mexico. I was looking at the “signs”, wondering… is it possible it’s time to leave? I like to believe there are signs, that life has a purpose and meaning and that if I’m present I’ll see the patterns and find my way. I totally believed that when I arrived in Mexico, it’s easier to believe when mostly life goes well. It’s more difficult to see meaning when you’re sick, broke, you lose your joy, and the place you love most in the world threatens your life.
Felipe gave up on the philosophy years ago. When I suggest an occurrence has a deeper significance, he replies, “I’ll think about that when I’m consistently able to feed us without worry.” But, being the wonderful partner he is, also says, “If we need to leave, Abby, then we’ll go. There is nothing more important than your health. I’m not attached to anything here.”
A week ago I went home for a visit, to prepare Felipe to spend another week without me as he works full time and takes care for our farm and animals, alone. Amid the cooking and cleaning, I found time for a walk, not the same walk where I lost Lilly; still, it was into the wilderness. There, I felt joy for the first time in a long time. I went home and sat under my tree, I was breathing deeply with the help of new, more effective treatment. I thought of this poem I wrote a couple of years ago, about some of the wondrous experiences I’ve had, and I knew this was still my home, here, beneath the Amate.
Speak with Stones by Abby Smith, Hear it Here!
Speak with Stones
“Do all stones speak?”
“No, only the ones that breathe.”
Blackfoot Physics, F. David Peat
I too have gone to live
In the woods
Nothing novel in that
There, I’ve sat at the feet
Of a turtle with the Buddha
On its back
I have climbed
The layers of water that ladder
To the sky
I’ve echoed a chant
Till the devils in me
Conceded to vibrate high
I’ve marveled in tears
As an eagle swept away
With my charge
I’ve dance in the fire of devotion
Then sifted the ashes
Of my own heart
I’ve gathered together
Pieces of the greatest warrior
I’ve ever known
I have stepped from the threshold
Hundreds of times without knowing
The depths below
I have gone to the woods
And I’m not coming back
Until I can speak with stones
For those of you who’ve followed this story and have genuine concern for my well-being, many practical measures are being employed to ensure my healthy long term return to the Piedra Rahada, I’m not relying on metaphor, signs, potions…well not entirely : ) Thank you all for your support and kind comments. Paz, Abby
And a very special thanks to my friend Larry Prater, without whom, I truly would have lost hope.
My poetry project, Where I live: a Devotion to Poetry, wherein I memorize, recite and post 52 poems in 2014 is coming to an end…ahhh…I know I’m sad too. I chose the poems I did for lots of reasons: to make statements, confound, entertain, to reveal a bit of myself, but always with the presentation in mind, not too long, too difficult, something that reads well out loud.
These last few poems will be simply for me. Just poems I like. I hope you’ll like them too. Hear this week’s poem, Song in my Heart,, by Diane Suess.