Posts Tagged ‘stranger’


for Tomàs


The candle is not there to illuminate itself. 

            —Jan-Fishan Khan



It will only take five minutes, he said,

and so, though I’d not spoken with him before

and though I was about to teach a class,

I followed him outside the library door

to the dirt lot where his truck was parked

and from the open pick up bed

he pulled with flourish a rolled-up rug

and spread it between the rabbit brush

and milk thistle, then hoisted

two flat wooden seats he’d fashioned

out of pine, arranged them on the rug,

and swung a bench-like table from the bed

and placed it in the center.

And I expected, what, well, not

what happened next. It’s your canoe,

he said, and from his truck he plucked

a long and knobby stick. And here’s your oar,

he offered, with a slight bow of his head.

I took it up and kicked my shoes off, stepped

onto the rug, then leapt up to table top

and began to paddle the air.

Where are we going then, I said,

my eyes on the horizon.

To Java, he said, and I paddled harder,

eager to reach its shores. I’ve always

wanted to go to Java, I said, pulling

through currents of air. And look, he said,

there’s a farmer there on the banks

saying his morning prayers.

And he pulled from the truck a large

straw hat that he set upon his head

and a simple white scarf he let

slip through his fingers in a ritual

of silk. And when my boat came near,

he stepped beside it, met me

with a bowl-shaped bell, and circled

the small canoe, baptizing the air

with its one-note song. I closed my eyes,

and felt the tone open inside me,

and when I let my lids fly up,

he was standing right in front of me

with a vial of dark oil that smelled of vanilla

and evergreen. And he anointed me,

touching the oil to my head with his finger.

I knew I had arrived. I jumped down and hugged

the farmer, then searched the ground

for a smooth white stone to give him in return.

And as I journeyed back to the library,

somehow now only steps away, I took with me

the scent of pine, the smile of the native man,

the joy that comes when all the lines

we thought we knew have been erased,

and our inner map wildly rearranged.



Read Full Post »

Every one of us, a sliver of divinity–I suppose that belief is part of what drives this poem published today in Telluride Inside and Out … a poem I wrote last year about a chance encounter around Christmastime.

Merry Christmas, friends … you can read the poem here.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: