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Winter, from "Song of the Seasons"

"Winter," and excerpt from my poem SONG OF THE SEASONS

In the book of days,

the book of nights,

a luminous face in a violet sky,

a crescent, a scythe, a smile in the darkness,

lantern loved as a boy seen by a man,

white stone on the shore,

pool in the black rocks,

a birch tree bending like a woman,

a balloon, a disk, a wafer,

a glowing phantom,

a red ram charging across a black field,

a streak of orange, a yellow jaguar,

a watery eye over a dark mountain,

a Chinese lamp, a radiant globe,

a mystical presence, a heron taking flight,

a silent companion, a laughing fool,

a wise woman’s brow, an idiot’s grin,

queen of the darkness,

white lady of the night,

you put magic into the earth for a time,

you come and go with stealth, in secrecy,

O hallowed moon, fire without flame,

you gypsy orb, you nomad ghost,

you bedouin of black sands,

pearl cast into an ebony sea,

you solitary bird, you janus spook,

an ivory mask on a velvet curtain,

faithless lover, faithful comrade,

I journeyed like you through empty hours,

short days, long nights,

embraced by the bitter cold

in the dead calm of winter.

I journey forward

taking the measurement of time

 

As I wait for the turning to come

as I wait for the light to envelope me

as I wait for the lifting of the eternal fog

as I wait for the sinking of the city,

I explore the length of your rivers,

the height of your mountains,

the depths of your forests,

the breadth of your oceans . . .

Will I ever come to the end of you?

 

I sound out the harmonies and discords,

on the black and white keys,

and when I come to the end, another keyboard appears

and then another and another

in a long line that stretches to infinity.

I see the reflections of other men,

and although they all look like me

they are each playing a different tune.

Slowly, they all disappear, except for one.

I plead with him to play in unison

but he ignores me. It begins to snow.

I can’t see him anymore,

but I can still hear his muffled melody.

 

You say you have a twin sister

but I have never seen the two of you together.

Each time we meet I am never sure which one you are.

I open the door to your house,

I call you but my voice echoes within,

flies out a window, goes down the slope to the river.

While I wait for you to come home, it begins to snow.

A child passing by smiles at me.

I smile back and tell him I hate you.

He looks frightened and runs away.

My life will change

when I find you and your twin together.

Then I will know if I love only one or both of you.

If humanity learns to love itself as I love you

will that prevent the Apocalypse from coming?

 

When the earth ripens like a pomegranate

all the seeds will be released unharmed.

Why is the Buddha laughing?

Is the world a joke? Is the world a joy?

When all the rivers are crossed

we will come to the womb.

We will become an ouroboros,

our end will be our cradle,

the alpha of our beginning,

our above and our below,

our inside and our outside,

our yin and our yang,

our ends will meet, our centers will join

in the center of centers.

 

The portal opens between light and shadow,

do we see the shining gold of Ophir

or the sun of the New Jerusalem?

Our lives are seasoned by the light interlaced with shadow.

The judges mutter their incidental remarks,

as they watch with suspicious eyes.

Yes, I too have seen Susanna bathing in her garden.

I was standing behind the elders, felt the rising of my lust,

but luckily it began to snow, and I succumbed to its loveliness

just as she was obscured from view.

 

I am alone in my ice-ladened labyrinth,

slipping forward to the minotaur or towards the omphalos.

What lies at the center if not another center?

Must I climb over an ice-bound Lucifer

in order to emerge in my own purgatory?

To begin at the beginning: It has stopped snowing.

I can see the gate to my wintry inferno and it bears no inscription

but only leads to another gate, which leads to yet another gate.

Again, there is no inscription, but a woman lies atop it,

her hair hangs down, I smell the fragrance of jasmine,

notice that the snow is melting . . .