I step into the painting of the four blue horses.
I am not even surprised that I can do this.
One of the horses walks toward me.
His blue nose noses me lightly. I put my arm
over his blue mane, not holding on, just
He allows me my pleasure.
Franz Marc died a young man, shrapnel in his
I would rather die than explain to the blue horses
what war is.
They would either faint in horror, or simply
find it impossible to believe.
I do not know how to thank you, Franz Marc.
Maybe our world will grow kinder eventually.
Maybe the desire to make something beautiful
is the piece of God that is inside each of us.
Now all four horses have come closer,
are bending their faces toward me
as if they have secrets to tell.
I don’t expect them to speak, and they don’t.
If being so beautiful isn’t enough, what
could they possibly say?
she could not make sense of
the things that were meant for
her, but she was drawn to it all.
and when she was alone, she felt
like the moon: terrified of the
sky, but completely in love with
the way it held the stars.
O my Lord,
if I worship Thee
for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell;
And if I worship Thee
for hope of Paradise, exclude me thence;
but if I worship Thee
for Thine Own Sake, withhold not from me
Thine eternal Beauty.
Photo courtesy of Paul Hueber
The great spiritual teacher Krishnamurti once said, “When you teach a child that a bird is named ‘bird,’ the child will never see the bird again.” What they’ll see is the word “bird.” That’s what they’ll see and feel, and when they look up in the sky and see that strange, winged being take flight, they’ll forget that what is actually there is a great mystery. They’ll forget that they really don’t know what it is. They’ll forget that the thing flying through the sky is the beyond all words, that it’s an expression of the immensity of life. It’s actually an extraordinary and wondrous thing that flies through the sky. But as soon as we name it, we think we know what it is. We see “bird,” and we almost discount it. A “bird,” “cat,” “dog,” “human,” “cup,” “chair,” “house,” “forest”–all of these things have been given names, and all of these things lose some of their natural aliveness once we name them.
Photo courtesy of Paul Hueber (Thanks Paul!)
We’re not meant to survive it. We’re meant to be ravaged by it
until it wears us away like stone ground to sand.
And not just by heartache and loss, but by beauty too.
By all that’s pure and true in the world,
and by everything we love and hope and dream.
If we’re doing it right, we’re meant to feel it all viscerally,
unreasoning and aching as we take it all in.
Last night, an owl
in the blue dark
an indeterminate number
of carefully shaped sounds into
the world, in which,
a quarter of a mile away, I happened
to be standing.
I couldn’t tell
which one it was –
the barred or the great-horned
ship of the air –
it was that distant. But, anyway,
aren’t there moments
that are better than knowing something,
and sweeter? Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness. I suppose
if this were someone else’s story
they would have insisted on knowing
whatever is knowable – would have hurried
over the fields
to name it – the owl, I mean.
But it’s mine, this poem of the night,
and I just stood there, listening and holding out
my hands to the soft glitter
falling through the air. I love this world,
but not for its answers.
And I wish good luck to the owl,
whatever its name –
and I wish great welcome to the snow,
whatever its severe and comfortless
and beautiful meaning.