The cicadas are going round in trees of our neighborhood. They stop when the rain comes. And stay silent after rain. Then crickets. A birdcall. A woman across the alley yells, Hey! Stop it! to her dog.
At the red light on Lashley and 119 a woman with an uneven gait steps off curb, walks across four lanes, eyes ahead. The cars and trucks gently stop for her. We know she is in some kind of trouble; torso stiffly slants forward, legs moving with some force, not exactly integrated with hips. Maybe illness, addiction we think. Something has been lost in her translation of what it is to move (We have all been in trouble). We place a permeable bluish safety shield around her. It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t see it. No one presses their horn or yells, lady what are you doing.
I ride to Salud Clinic through alleys and parks. At the top of Lashley and 119 there’s a wave of mountains sticking up out of the flat ground. Before I turn left onto Rodgers there used to be a giant blue eyeball painted on the North side of a building so realistic with a tear duct and veins and lashes. Now there’s no building. I stop and get off my bike to see if there are remnants. No trace. Below Rodgers there’s a tremendous salvage yard. I haven’t looked closely enough to tell if the parts are arranged by color or type or states of disrepair.
I heard that at Tassajara Zen Center there are 4 compost sections in the order of what breaks down first and then last. First veggies and second orange peels and next was harder to compost things, like paper I suppose. The last was an old wheelbarrow, old engines, shovels and so on…
Cicadas in trees, tymbols buzz, hollow belly drums. Their pounding gets softer as female cicadas are close. The sound has layers to it like a Ferris wheel. Like how, at the carnival, a new boy friend wins a blue stuffed animal and hands it to a girl. Like how cotton candy sticks to fingers and hair. Big fluffy wads smooshed into mouth, where it gets small and solid and dense and pure.
The cicadas go round like waiting backstage to go on. We are in the dark together, audience in their seats and dancers behind black weighted curtains. Tech guy whispers into his headset, and the lights buzz on. The blues, reds, Tipton pink. There is Mark Miller, in his black and white, playing a long deep flute. I’m wearing all black. My arms and feet painted in white stripes by Joan Anderson. I circle my foot, other foot. Crack toes, fan toes, point toes. Breathe out and lengthen spine, confident. I leave behind any thought or any thing before now. I step out into the light wash on all fours— slide, roll. I’m making it up. I watch as my fingers reach up into a narrow beam and breathe with the music of Shakuhachi. The stage is cold, and the gap in front is dark and empty filled with faceless energy. I can feel the audience’s stillness. I also become still. Joan and Damaris and Mary step on stage beside me, to join me, duplicating my shape.
The cicadas go round like handwriting. In my recurring child dream there is an elf man and I am holding onto the wooden carved bedpost with one hand and going round with some outside force. It’s hard to hold on. If I let go here I will land in this life. If I let go here— this other life. The elf man is somehow guiding me. He is not altogether friendly.
Some translate dukkha as dissatisfaction—that sounds too easy. Discontent works if I say “the winter of our discontent.” It’s a broad suffering. So, the Bodhisattva picks up on this, like a bug with thin wings and a hollow core, a drum instead of torso, empty, but for some kind of wheel. The bodhisattva feels this hunger, the want of others. She feels the panic, the fright. She is not above it. She is of this world. The poet too, stares into the small of the backs of alleys and insects, is sparked by the vision, and (as Denise Levertov says) out comes a gasp, a word. *
Now the cicadas stop turning the trees and the big bright ball is dark except for a small crescent. Even the lawnmowers stop. Groups sit under trees in the park. One group by the playground sings. The high school students are also standing in groups. We are looking up in our special paper glasses, so dark we cannot see other things except the eclipse. Steve stands and turns different directions, bites his nails. I shift from laying to sitting and then Steve says this is about as complete as it gets. I find my phone and see 11:41. The ducks in the pond swim toward Steve and I in a V. I think they expect something from us, particularly Steve since he is standing looking their way. One duck has a blue beak. One duck squawks repeatedly. I mention the strangeness to Steve.
I didn’t know about looking through the colander at all the suns, or under a tree, on a rock until I read a poem by Robert Bly** and also facebook. I look into the pond repeatedly. Where’s the sun, I say. That is the sun, Steve says. The overall brightness? I say. And he says yes. I don’t think of having a spiritual moment or a wish or a new beginning. I don’t feel small. The shadows are thick. I am slightly cold and remember poking pins in cardboard when I was 6 or 7 and looking in a pail of water in Maine.
At home before going in we hear Jake howl deeply. I have never heard him but my neighbor, Megan has.
Later, from the kitchen radio a man’s voice talks about seeing a film. He says the film is fragmented like the best fiction. And he tells the author’s names. It takes the viewer to make it complete, he says.
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* Some Notes on Organic Form by Denise Levertov | Poetry Magazine
** Seeing the Eclipse in Maine by Robert Bly | Poetry Foundation