Song for the Salmon

stones-river
For too many days now I have not
written of the sea, nor the rivers,
nor the shifting currents
we find between the islands.

For too many nights now I have not
imagined the salmon
threading the dark streams
of reflected stars,
nor have I dreamt of his longing
nor the lithe swing of his tail toward dawn.

I have not given myself
to the depth to which he goes,
to the cargoes of crystal water,
cold with salt, nor the enormous plains
of ocean swaying beneath the moon.

I have not felt the lifted arms of the ocean
opening its white hands on the seashore,
nor the salted wind, whole and healthy
filling the chest with living air.

I have not heard those waves
fallen out of heaven onto earth,
nor the tumult of sound and the satisfaction
of a thousand miles of ocean
giving up its strength on the sand.

But now I have spoken of that great sea,
the ocean of longing shifts through me,
the blessed inner star of navigation
moves in the dark sky above
and I am ready like the young salmon
to leave this river, blessed with hunger
for a great journey on the drawing tide.

– David Whyte

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God speaks to each of us as he makes us

mistymorning

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

 

– Reiner Maria Rilke, transl. Joanna Macy & Anita Barrows
Book of Hours, I 59

House of Belonging

gold-light

I awoke this morning
in the gold light
turning this way
and that
thinking for a moment
it was one day
like any other.

But the veil had gone
from my darkened heart
and I thought
it must have been the quiet
candlelight that filled my room,
it must have been the first
easy rhythm
with which I breathed
myself to sleep,

it must have been
the prayer I said
speaking to the otherness
of the night.

And I thought
this is the good day
you could meet your love,
this is the black day
someone close to you
could die.

This is the day you realize
how easily the thread is broken
between this world and the next

and I found myself
sitting up in the quiet pathway
of light, the tawny
close grained cedar
burning round me like fire
and all the angels of this housely heaven
ascending through the first roof of light
the sun has made.

This is the bright home
in which I live, this is where
I ask my friends to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

David Whyte