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Posts Tagged ‘nothing’

 

 

In the secret temple of my heart

was an altar

with nothing on it—

I love nothing,

the pure potential

of it. Sometimes when others

journeyed here, I sensed

they were surprised,

perhaps even sorry for me,

as if it would better

with a lotus or a cross

or a star or a figurine

or a photo of someone.

Or a stone. Always something.

I tried, in fact, to put things

on the altar, but

no thing let itself

stay. There was a day

when, in a single moment,

the altar had everything

on it, and by everything,

I mean everything—every

bee, every stick, every

plastic bag and beetle,

every crushed empty can,

every crumpled shirt,

every door handle, compass,

broken thermometer, apple,

trashcan, tree, everything.

And it was so beautiful I wept.

For hours. Oh, the pure potential of it!

And then, that altar

was no longer in some secret

temple in my heart,

but everywhere. Everywhere

a place to worship.

Everything a prayer

waiting to be heard,

to be touched.

And inside, the most beautiful

nothing, not even an altar,

which is, oddly, everything.

I can’t say how.

Sometimes, when I am quiet enough,

I notice it. Sometimes, when

I get out of the way, I fall all the way in.

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Eating Dinner with

 

 

What gave numbers their power was the very act of naming them and writing them down.

            —Amir Aczel, “The Origin of the Number Zero,” Smithsonian Magazine, December, 2014

 

 

Imagine, says my friend, before 700

there was no zero, which means

before that there was no concept

of nothing. In my bowl,

there is only a bit of squash soup left.

I add some salt, take a small bite.

There is less. I remember reading

that numbers exist outside

the human mind. Not like

a John Deere tractor that’s invented.

Not like a sonata that’s composed.

I take another bite of soup.

it is warm and tastes of apple

and thyme. I try to imagine it,

not knowing of nothing.

What would I have said

was in my bowl now that

the soup is gone? What

would I have thought

was in the chair beside me

here where you are not?

How would it change this

all that is, not comprehending

this all that is not?

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One Undoing

 

 

 

blowing all the wishes

off the dandelion—

falling in love with nothing

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The distress signal. There wasn’t one.
Suddenly it was gone. Just gone.
The plane, of course, but also our sense
of what’s possible. How could we lose a plane?
The sky today somehow too big, the ocean
too vast for comfort. It would take only a scrap
of metal wing or a wail of a recorded scream
to set us more at ease—some hint of blame to rest on,
some floating debris to trace. Nothing worse than this nothing.
Nothing. Did a door fail? A meteor hit? Did
the pilot get distracted just enough? Failure
of power? A hijacker plot? It doesn’t help
that the path is unclear. Though it almost always is.
So we do what we know how to do. Make grids.
Analyze. Hypothesize. Offer rewards. Criticize.
Wonder, conjecture and doubt. And resist making peace
with nothing. There must be an answer.
There’s always an answer. 239 people know.
For the rest of us, the sky now too big. And the ocean
too vast. And our questions insatiable, starved
for a slick, for a bit, for a fragment of flight, for
anything, anything, that isn’t this terrible nothing.

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Nothing, how I love you.
Nothing in my hands and nothing
in my thoughts. Nothing between
my everything to do.

You are not mountain nor desert, not wild
nor tame. You are equally not juicy, not dry.
There is no anger in you, no sorrow.
There is no hunger, no longing, no need.

And still you are more yes than no.
You are entirely, uncompromisingly
Nothing. The nothing that holds up
the everything else.

Nothing, I have visited you. Felt
the ever expanding reach of you,
felt myself as nothing, infinite
and everywhere and I did not want to return.

Until there was the tiniest thought of me
that pulled me back into this world
of pomegranates and rivers and lavender
and loss. Nothing, I love you. You are everything I am not.

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Strange Answers

In this experiment,
longing is the constant
and the independent variable
is a many purple petalled thing
and the dependent variable
is song. No. That’s not it.
Perhaps the constant
is blue. And the independent
variable has something to do
with rain, and the dependent variable
is this terrible pain in my leg.
God, I could beg. I will beg,
just make the pain
go away and let the constant be
something more like
the way the sun caught
in the clouds this morning,
which is to say something
not at all constant, not
one bit controlled. This
is the proof, I suppose,
of nothing, the way
it shifts, the way
it constantly changes everything,
even the woman
conducting experiments,
writing conclusions
in chalk on the pavement,
laughing in great waves
as the independent
rain starts again to fall.

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Not the song but
the silence under the song,
not the stars
but the darkness between,
not the kiss
but the longing before the kiss
and the trembling long after, and
not the snow
but the spaces connecting the snow,
not the heart
but the pulse that persuades it to move,
no not the web
but the light in the strands,
not the certainty
but the wonder that birthed it,
and the branches, bare
and the cup, empty
waiting to be filled.

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The great gift, contrary to assumption,
is to disappear.

—Barry Spacks, The Pleasures of Flow

Like the scent of lemon
once intense in bare hands.
Like cottonwood leaves—
how they flee
first in heaps
and then one
by one
leaving empty
degrees of space.
Like the last note
of the solo cello
after the bow
has stilled.
Like stars
in the face
of one
great star
so close
to us.
Like
the taste
of a kiss
that persists
long after
the lips
are
gone.

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Our steps interlocked,
Michelle asks me, “What do you need,”

and it occurs to me that everything
I love can and will be taken from me.

The wind that fills the sail
will eventually shred it.

The child who curves her body
into the breast will wean, will grow,

will leave. It is not true that I need nothing,
Oh Maslow, you gave us the map,

but an affinity with nothing is
perhaps what I need.

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Still,
still,
and then new leaves
are ruffled by
the morning breeze
and shimmied, trembled,
shaken till they’re
still.

Silent,
silent
till the birds
all trilling through
the trees are heard—
they sing their spirals,
coo and call until they’re
hush shhh.

Quiet,
quiet,
till the bloom
of anger does
what angers do—
riles, outcries
and tells us lies
until we live
it through

and then it’s quiet here
and silent, still,
till something rises
as it will
from nothing—
and how always
we return always
to nothing.

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