The Art of the Physical
I want that sanctuary, that secluded room
like I see in my English garden magazine -
those chiseled yew and arbor vitae, prairie borders
twenty feet wide, I want to write, to draw,
to immerse my hands, my mind -
my hands, yes, my hands -
to offer, to own
to pick up seeds
and bathroom tiles and swallowtails,
to spin the bits and change their shapes,
to exist, create, soak in their purple
and gold and nun-like black,
to tie time - all of time - with my hair
into a trailing scarf - dipped and dyed
into teals and harvested wheat, topaz gemstones -
wound around my shoulders saffron
thoughts, life pieces,
pine trees feeding this indefinable ache,
outside forest windows looking in,
the death death death
of a young man son,
splintered bloody edges
next to my inconsolable
need for color.
I bow to my savage garden,
hands and fragments
swollen twisted beautiful
changed, into tactile,
visual, life spinning completion,
garden mosaics under my feet.
The wall holds the weaving, huge, with orange tipped goddesses,
free-falling, swinging, over the magenta canyon. Laughter, tiny echoes
from the corners of the room. Azure threads whisper through silk,
the tender mercies of sassafras infuse, linger, with turmeric gold.
Of queens these histories are made: Rabia, Mira, Hildegard of Bingen,
Christina Rosetti, Virginia Wolfe, Alice Walker, Georgia O’Keefe,
Rebecca Adamson, Leslie Silko. By women told, history, ourstory, ourstory.
We hold it together, the moon and sun course through our bodies,
the light enfolds the dark . . . dark music and horns and hopes,
rich damp moss and garden gates heavy with vines,
wisteria purple, morning glory pure.
Our art, our minds, our bodies, we weave, we dance, we paint
and we serve up life as one thick held gumbo,
variations on color, texture and theme.
Perhaps we can trust . . . the only true thing -
the threads, the indigo taint and magic, the cures of blood and years,
the cinnamon scented skin, our internal dialogue, our weavings -
the cerulean, purple and neon green cloth of our souls.
One Step to Awake
Sandals in the hall, toes smeared with rose-gray paint,
her apron hangs at an angle. The early morning bread dough
has raised to collapsing one floor below.
She pushes her hand through her hair,
leaving streaks of viridian across her forehead and into the brown.
Out of focus, a little dizzy, she still smells orchids
and moss-filled crevasses, feels the damp of lush green vines
brush her body; her hands still trace the carved out lips,
the not quite sightless eyes.
She felt comfortable there, unwilling to let go.
She had been so there, in the doorway of the temple,
the coldness of the stone touching her shoulder,
the need and connection to the bulging stone breasts,
bellies and torsos -
she wondered briefly if time is holy
or if it’s any kind of answer -
Maybe the knowledge was carved into the stone -
brooding, holding an expectant silence.
Colors slide about in her mind -
the broken walls, scattered with raku blue,
purple winged birds, words, pottery-poetry-bowls.
Her shoulders tremble and her neck muscles ache.
The smell of turp and oils and sun
coming through the open window,
gradually become real. A wasp hovers near the ceiling.
Orange flares of pain, regret, well up like acid -
six more months to live in this house -
the roses and cedars outside her studio window,
the fuchsias and corals and pinks, gallica and damask -
all on the auction block, just like her marriage.
She stretches, lifts her marmalade cat from her pillow,
shivers in the warm summer air.
Straightening her back, she heads for the stairs.
Prussian and gold tipped feathers trail,
drift and settle, as she moves down the hall.
And so, do you do acid when you paint?
.................. (at an opening in 2006)
Catherine said it - “One day he was sitting in the window,
My lord, when I went shopping through the sky.
I knew what I wanted.”
Hafiz, Rumi, Rabia -
knew about desire,
consummation with -
with this almost reachable Divine.
Dancing, “shopping in the sky,” color -
Avenues for delight, exquisite pleasure -
close to that orgasmic perfection
we know so seldom in our physical lives.
Intensity, yes, perfection, no.
Rabia, Theresa, Catherine.
What woman today writes of experiencing
All the Divine treats? Perhaps, there are hints
in Wiccan ritual or Mary Oliver’s poetry.
Tender, tender mercies and we keep our silence.
Was the hermit “crazy” because she dressed in rags
or because she spoke with God?
How do we recover from western civilization?
Rational. Logical. Dead, dead ends.
Daydreams and nightdreams, fairies, art, Sufis and mystics,
Indigenous peoples. Sue Kidder Monk came close
in her story of the bees where the manuscript lets women
be anointed in honey before the Feminine Divine.
Can we, dare we, move our parlor outdoors?
Sit in solitary splendor on a boulder in the sun,
be overcome with her Holiness?
Too much and we perish, but she - nearly always -
lets us come back, lets us try to speak to the experience.
But it is like explaining “home” - the one we all wish we had.
The welcoming arms, the light in the eyes of the ones we love,
The complete loving acceptance and valuing of who we are.
And then add the dance, that enfolding of a radiance so large
and filled with color we are lifted to translucent white places,
pulling wisps and strands of prisms to trail like scarves
through our minds and paints, onto canvas and clothing,
to the floor and walls.
So, what makes a mystic?