Smithies of Our Soul (Poem for my 80th Birthday)

When I sat in Mother’s lap
Little Toot was anchored
snug in the day sweet bay
What I was taught was
true as a cow’s moo
or the keystone in an arc
and as nature intended
I became or fought
what I was taught

Until I sailed into the tipping roar
of plunging seas
where hormones and context tumbled Truth
collapsing thought
and all that existed was new
was now, was certain and unfathomable
as the whale-wide sea that never knew
how earth, moon and sun
conspire to pull the mighty tides
of agony, harmony, and ecstasy

It took decades to get sea legs
to discover my responsibility
and clumsily tend the emerging forge of now
in life’s tidal cathedral
invisible as oceans evaporating into
seas of sky that whiten, soften and contour
meadows and mountain peaks
ethereal as light eclipsing thought
illuminating imagination

At eighty death herds me
A fact that can’t be factored,
for Truth is as indivisible
and ever shifting as awareness
riding tides of breath

So it is that the flame
exists in imagination’s cradle
to lift us with or without a candle
or a name

There are many starlight bright mansions
in creation’s chambers
yet so often we are destined,
seeing only the surface,
to crush the embers
and wander up and down narrow
shadow-long halls
lined with invisible mirrors
etched by generations of habits
that shape the destiny of moments

To make the dark appear
that we may witness its disappearance
we have to breathe back into
ancient mysteries to fully
witness recent histories
and discover that love and loss
cobble us together
and hobble us to our past

It takes forever to awaken
into the glow of
once upon a time that makes now possible
so it is that our pilgrimage begins and ends
in the place it began
with windows wide open
in our ancestral home

It takes so many new and old steps,
to find the simple fact that every act
every thought no matter how gross or refined
lives within an unfolding design
of lost and found
found and lost and peek-a-boo
this is the cost
just as water makes cement
every opposite creates a complement

We left The Garden
and remained broken and bloodied
until we learned that every experience
other than the quiet voice of Truth
and the song of water
is an illusion or passing fact
and even Truth is as slippery as fire kissed by air

Every dimension of slumming
and becoming
of thought and imagination
of failing, fainting and awakening
lives in the mirrorless chambers
of Creation’s house

This I know,
If we walk into the sunset
with eyes and heart wide open
age is the pilgrim’s surest steppingstone

I am that I am
was not spoken in the beginning
for the miracle is that
the beginning is always here
always now
no beginning
no end
no limit to the stations
along the way or the cracks that let the light in

We are smithies of our souls
leaning out for love
forge and billows
our stories like millstones
turned by refining fire and ice
squeaking until we learn
to melt and burn centuries of decay
to light candles that dissolve mirrors into windows
and experience into wonder

Cradling the leavings of dark and light,
we weave the chambered nautilus
where myth and rhyme,
chime the glory of flowers,
defining ever-unfolding diamonds
of heart and mind
an ever refining process of design

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