Now we will all count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
I am awake. It wasn’t always so.
It may not last for long. So let me
say this while my heart is beating like
a river. This life is more than one can
bear. It’s taken years to learn this, to
feel this, to know this in my bones.
I am not talking about giving up or
persevering. I mean we’re not designed
to bear it in the first place. Anymore
than the sun bears the sky or the wind
bears the thousands of leaves it moves
through. I am awake. This time I stum-
bled to it. I was productive. Some said
on fire. Then I tripped on something
ordinary. Like a pebble in your shoe.
And I fell out of the dance I had
created. The one by which I knew
my worth. I couldn’t get it back. It
depressed me for months. But like a
whale I kept diving down and coming
up. Despite the parting of my dream.
Now I’m awake as I never imagined.
This doesn’t preclude pain or weather
or disappointment. These as well as joy
land in some lake I have carried since
birth. It stills whatever enters without
silencing our heart. Like an endless
pool that clears after a violent rain,
you can see through me. Come.
Look. I am awake.
I am, you anxious one.
Don’t you sense me ready to break
into being at your touch?
My murmurings surround you like shadowy wings.
Can’t you see me standing before you
cloaked in stillness?
Hasn’t my longing ripened in you
from the beginning
as fruit ripens on the branch?
I am the dream you are dreaming.
When you want to awaken, I am that wanting:
I grow strong in the beauty you behold.
And with the silence of stars I enfold
your cities made by time.