Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A vastness stretching the ligaments of my soul

It came this morning at 4:42 am PST. It was still dark here in Oregon. I missed the exact moment. Things like this used to matter; sometimes still do. These past two days have been spent huddled in reading, rest, and writing. A few of my favorite things.

Yesterday, I received a wonderful gift in the mail from my dear friend, Joni, a book called, In The Shadows of the Morning, by Phil Caputo. It is a collection of essays of his adventures and travel experiences; moments from a life in movement. I have already begun to read it. It's a perfect companion for this winter's commencement. There was also a card that accompanied the gift. In it, she wrote that she had come across a random line in the book that read, The vastness of it stretched the ligaments of my soul. I love that. I knew she and I had both hit on something vital.

I also received card from another friend, Marti. It bears a painting by Peter Malone from the book The Possibility of Angels, inspired by the story A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings: A Tale For Children by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The story tells of a decrepit angel who, on his way to take a sick child to heaven, accidentally falls to earth and becomes a neighborhood sideshow.

The image on the card is of an old man angel at the seashore standing in windworn island clothing, slightly spread tattered wings, a red rooster in flight over one shoulder, a dove over the other, another rooster perched on his hand and yet another at his feet along with five red crabs. He is haloed with the unmistakable arc-plating of implied angelhood. All powerful and personal images to me.

Her note went on to say that she intended to read my poem, Tamales, at a local salon-style venue. That would have taken place last night at the Blue Agave in Santa Barbara. I am honored that the memory of my maternal grandmother was spoken in the company of strangers by a voice other than my own.

Lastly, my mother's Xmas card arrived as well. A simple Santa with outstretched arms and inside, a check for $25. My mom doesn't have a lot of money, so I will let her know that I do not intend to cash it. Unless she absolutely insists, then I will place it toward a new book or an art frame to make a gift to someone else. It's all about moving the chi, passing along the love energy, isn't it?

Here then a new poem written today, Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year:


The sun stood still today. It did not spill itself
over an early farmer's field in gushing rays
of gold and bronze, nor rise in the vigilant
eyes of a girl set adrift in the middle of her heart.

Instead, it nailed itself to a pale shard of blue, allowed
thunderhead to pass without as much as a vaportop
glance because this was the moment it comes to be stilled.

As in every year, even the most consummated must retreat
within the flames. Let radiance confer divinity another day.
For this moment is the time of unbuilt butterflies that have not
yet fashioned wings for skies that have not yet taken hue.

Let this be the least of us. From this morning on, sing
sweetly that the day remains to paint your song with light
in fruiting boughs. From this morning on, promise
the mute stars that all you gather will be thrown against
the pressing dawn, poured in the honeyed breath of children
as they rouse from dreams they never share with another soul.

From this morning on, let this be the least of us.
Let each day offer less and less, as the time to offer
grows long and wide. Let this be enough to sustain
our days into the foreshortened bliss that summers
our skin an ocean away. Only then will the sun move
among the ruins again. Only then will the sun truly endure.

Joseph Gallo
December 21, 2004


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