The Rite of Passage Through the Unfurled World

(for Jessamine, and sourced from a visionary journey)

1. The Journey from the Cave

The front of the boat taps the rocks by the shoreline
As it dips to and fro on the most gentle of waves.
The underside of the wooden craft
Dances with the light reflected from the water
That also reflects from the walls of the surrounding cave.
In the distance the mouth of the cave
Is a dazzling flood of sunlight in contrast
To the deep black of the inner regions of the cave behind.
Only vaguely if you turned would you see
The lowermost steps of the winding stone staircase
From where you entered the cave to see what you would find.
And now before you is this vision,
The scrolled wooden prow of the sweetest of coracles,
The front covered over in painted tiles
And the open nest of the back of the hull
Surrounded by painted wooden petals like a crown.
The boat is wide and steady
As you clamber over the front and make your way to the back
Where on cushions and blankets you snuggle down.
With your weight like a pivot
The small vessel swings around,
The mouth of the cave is just wide enough
And the sunlight eats the boat like a long hot swallow.
Tall trees clash in many colours of green
As you blink your eyes fiercely in the expanding scene,
And behind playfully racing and overlapping waves
You and your coracle follow.
Twenty butterflies take flight from the banks of the river
And imitate your eyelids as in fright they deliver
Orange flashes of light above the cool blue of the water.
And with hands holding steady the smooth petalled sides of the boat
You look all around at the magnificent scenery
As you float to the sea my daughter.
 
2. Across the Sea

Entranced by this enchanting land,
With firm cushions below and a steadying hand,
It doesn’t surprise you to find that the boat expands
As the distance to the banks grows wider.
From the place where you sit she lengthens and deepens
And tall masts grow like odd trees
Til they’re furnished with pale sails to guide her.
The sides of the craft heave left and right and several sections extend
With long oars dropping down dipping into the blue.
So like a salamander sliding the whole ship comes alive
As she flexibly weaves her great length through the waves,
The oars digging in like toes as the wide open sea comes into view.
The crown of wooden petals that surround your living quarters
Have become burnished with gold and silver and brass and other metals.
They’re like pointed shields to protect the deck
Where you gaze with adoration on the horizon beyond
Where on the wide open sea sunlight settles.
Your sailing ship glides on an outgoing tide
And continues to creak and grow
Such that the sides lift high with overlapping plates
Like a dinosaur’s hide but jewelled and glowing.
The bow of the ship leads the way
And the other sections sway til the end like a tail follows the bending trail
Of this ship that seems to know where it’s going.
 
3. Arriving at the City

As this ship grows does too the wide-brimmed view
Of the curving horizon and banners of land
That recede on the edges of this world.
And in the distance you see the tall spires of the place
Called the Infinite City growing apace, til the points seem to fan
Like an opening hand with welcoming flags unfurled.
The wharves of the port are also like fingers of hands
Fanning into the water and past many points of land,
Where coloured lighthouses stand, your ship and you pass
Til you realize at last that this city covers miles of coastline.
The ship knows the way, and past balconies arrayed
Like overlapping scales of giant fish facing skyward
And other such fat towers of light,
It finally finds a curving berth and from its own wide girth
Throws ropes to be on its posts tied.
There are welcoming beings of light,
And as others arrive they hold their hands high in greeting
To nearly touch at their fingertips.
And when two meet in this way a sudden large Orb of light appears
Touching both their hands, and in ghostly images
Are seen all other’s waving hands too, a flickering solar-flaring sphere
Affirming the unity of their kinship.
As you step off the ship you see a large, long wheeled vehicle
With a huge enamelled eye rolling slowly
On its pivot at the front of the open-topped conveyance.
But this must be for dignitaries, as you feel to make your way
To the left along courtyards where great shafts of coloured light
Break through the tiles revealing that down
Below such ground are more infinite levels and layers.
 
4. Finding the Dancers

Between the many levels and connecting the overarching towers
Are curving bridges with elegant balustrades and lightposts.
As you walk over such a one it seems to notice your steps
And stretches and grows in infinite details,
That you suppose that, as with the beings of light,
Even the architectural elements itself are your kind hosts.
And other tall beings smile and greet you in silent ways
And the streets widen to meet you and in the multi-faceted alleyways
Doorways grow under arching doorways
And broad steps become terraces with changing colourful tiles.
Alongside a windowed wall on your right one such alleyway
Reveals the sight of a welcoming guardian standing to the left
Of a series of entranceways in various styles.
Perhaps the evening here comes in fast, for from the entrance
Comes such a blast of warm friendly sound and radiating light
That it seems natural for you to pass under the arches
And enter this place as though arrived at last.
The space opens up under canopies of light
With tall fluted columns stretching up beyond sight
And the sound is the music of dancing in pairs
And among friendly faces you are cast.
The men dance with the men, and the women with women,
But also there are many intimate couples lining the spaces
Between marbled columns in this ceremonial play.
All of the pairs have their hands stretched outward
And palms and arms touching and some with their heads,
Such that the overwhelming effect is you feel that the very air
Seems to say ‘I will find my partner’ in this way.
 
5. Journey to the Lake

Is that how you came to be walking the next morning
With this compelling awareness in your head –
That everything around you seems to be paired,
Your dreaming head cleared of all thoughts but this one?
Is that why you walk by the banks of a stream,
The sides a similar height and sheen of pastel rocks
Embedded in brown soil under mossy green grasses
And the arms of the trees dividing the soft light of the sun?
The air seems to fill with the trilling of birds
That spill from the branches in spiralling twos,
And even the daisies nod in pairs from clusters in the earth
By pebbles and rocks that coupled touch shoulders together.
A dawning awareness grows of how you chose to journey
To this land to seek out one here who’d understand
And who could show you where to find your partner –
Not man nor woman but inner companion, companion in any weather.
To find your inner companion, the ‘other’,
You must first find the ‘one’, the Queen of this land
Who lives far from the city in the hills of the countryside.
So you wander old roads past the croaking of toads
And the rustling of grasses and rushes and flaxes
And your mind now relaxes around the thought
That you have no idea where she might reside.
White mountains in the distance spread their arms and their fingers
And you look out for signs of the twoness of things.
Then round a bend you are suddenly met
With the magnificent scene of a lake
Reflecting perfectly the mountains above
And with the vision of this final ‘pairing’ you hear your heart sing.
 
6. Meeting the War Queen

On the side of the lake pale green trees reflect
Like a fringe around a collar of rocks and the earth rises up
In broad ramparts leading to a courtyard of stone.
Behind this is an irregular and angular doorway
Vast in its measure such that when you draw nearer
It is easy to see deep into the structure
To the golden War Queen seated on a throne.
In front of her a fountain is set low in a pool
Where a broad silver sword is laid in the water,
The image rippling rapidly spilling light in the room.
So that when you now enter
You can see spindled threads of light dancing on the tiled dome ceiling
Amid clouds of incense thick with perfume.
You follow the rich carpet that curves around the pool
And the Queen warmly greets you like you’ve always been expected
And tells you not to be dejected that there’s a war going on.
It’s true, she says, that we’re in a difficult phase
But there’s never been a day when the war wasn’t raging,
And the conclusion of battles is always foregone.
We always win as is the way of things,
So there’s always time for a feast and welcome celebration
Now that you’re here at the end of your quest.
And there will never ever be war in this place of the palace
Where I sit on my throne nor ever in this land out through the doorway
So please put your mind at rest.
 
7. Knowledge of the Other Worlds

Sitting on the soft circular carpet by the pool,
The Queen dines with you on a range of sweet treats
While her battle shield leans on the throne behind.
Looking around to the distant points of the room
You see several stairs leading down through openings in the floor
Like to far-lower doors full of dirt and grime.
And you know there’s a world through those thick wooden doors
Where the dark hills are surmounted
By thousands of crosses for those who have died in war.
But at this the Queen touches your shoulder and says that all such beings are One,
And though that they may pass they return again and again,
And for every one that dies as many more they are reborn.
We die freely, she says, to find we multiply,
And as related brothers and sisters we live again as many more.
And indeed many more different worlds there are too,
So we pass through experiences vast
Like the multiple arches in the Infinite City you explored.
For the swords we use are never abused
With the stain of dirt or blood because each warrior has their own
And it is kept shining bright with a special polish.
The weapon is only used in battle
To reflect the wondrous light-filled Orb of Oneness,
Such that by such sudden flash the opposing dark beings are transformed –
That’s the only reason the swords are flourished.
 
8. Meeting the Companion

And with that the War Queen hands you the broad silver sword
From the pool at the centre of the room and asks you to look up again
At the wide dome ceiling which has now changed its view.
The fountain has lowered to below the surface of the pool
And now it settles til still, and above your heads
Is a circle of light stretching flat and level, pale blue in hue.
Your task, says the Queen, is to keep this horizontal plane of light
Level with the natural power of your mind and will,
And to help you is a companion from my realm who will battle for you.
When you sail in your craft back to the furthest shore
You will pass by the giant trees of plenty,
So wait for a while til the fruits drop by themselves –
Like we, be patient to be given to.
Eat five golden fruit from these trees
Such that good fortune will take root
And your craft will grow strong wings to add flight to your flow.
When it takes to the skies remember your companion warrior’s cry
And passing over the mountain range below,
Remember millions of snowflakes multiplied make up the purest snow.
Like millions of leaves that make up a tree,
Where each leaf is unique like the partner you seek,
Your companion will battle for the One in our land.
And with that the Queen stood up and moved to a door
Hidden behind the golden throne,
And when she opened it up,
There was your companion and partner and warrior
Who reaches out now to take your hand.

For Who Might See

You – did you know me when
I fell into the ageless well within?

And you – did you watch me while
I lingered before the flame
Of my Beloved’s smile?

Perhaps you – you saw me dance.
Did you taste the kiss of who
I touched in trance?

Maybe you – in your eyes I recall
A fleeting light:
A moon between clouds
On a stillborn night.

1997

Contentment

The rock that sits
that waits in the corner
Behind the door
should it be needed
As a doorstop.

The picture of my guru
arms upraised in blessing
That never tire;
the fullness of that moment
As a constant reminder.

The tan underside
of the guitar strap
Turned to view.
No shoulder needs
To stretch its weight.

The droop of the lily
over the horizon of the pot.
My mind resting enough
to note its want of me
With a little water to revive.

Six Passers-by

Middle-aged, papers clutched against her chest, fingers entwined.
As though her life were undelivered, although apparently sealed and signed.

Pear-shaped body, swaying hips, hands hooked inside long black sleeves.
Hair tied into ponytails, handbag swinging, to and fro she weaves.

Thin white shirt, rippling in the wind, pasting against bare skin.
Long unbuttoned cuffs signal the end of his business day, evening begins.

Small Asian face almost covered by wrap-around sunglasses.
Earrings flash in flaxen hair, flared jeans reveal high fashion shoes as she passes.

A double exposure, two dark-haried women, each holding a hoisted handbag.
In smiles and hair heads nod together, but one seems lighter, feet white sandalled.

Chinstraps frame a silvered beard, a cyclist in yellow windbreaker.
Speeding by, his smile is surprisingly permanent, the freedom in this cocooned caper.

  
27 – 11 – 07

Face

the eyes looked with equal regard
the smile knew to whom it belonged
the nose loved to slope like the fresh-fallen snow
the sinuses inside made a rorschach of light-filled cavities
filled with the aroma of rose

the eyebrows pondered gentle distinctions
the eyelashes surfed on the wind
the teeth took their place in white ranks four apace
the tongue breathed and swum under the palatial roof hung
with ribbons of rouge-coloured banners

the cheekbones were hands holding clay
the temple touched soft clouds within
the brow fell like cotton-cloth hung for a movie
the eyeballs now knew they were orphans and only-childs
but for each other adopted at birth

the ears whispered secrets in shells
the hairline drew a scribble of mane
the jawline swooped down to the rock-rolling sea
the neck was a sand-dune sculpted at the base of the edifice
face of a pharaoh under the moon.

2006

Body

The shells of your toenails.
The deltas of your toes.
The plinth of your feet.
The Doric columns of your ankles.
The catamaran prows of your shins.
The gunstocks of your calves.
The armourplate shields of your kneecaps.
The pipeline bridges of your lap.
The concrete jetties of your thighs.
The curving balustrades of your buttocks.
The scarab wingplates of your haunches.
The balcony edges of your hips.
The plunging neckline of your pubic hair.
The underground train of your sex.
The mountaintop meadow of your stomach.
The glowworm grotto of your ribcage.
The ceremonial blade of your sternum.
The dark-rimmed sunglasses of your chest.
The snow-capped ridges of your shoulders.
The melting icicles of your arms.
The rudders of your elbows.
The leather drinking bladders of your forearms.
The bookends of your wrists.
The dovewings of your fingers.
The hotplates of your palms.
The metronome of your clavicles.
The flowervase of your throat.
The treetrunk of your neck.
The footpedal of your jaw.
The double sofa of your mouth.
The handmower of your nose.
The roseblooms of your ears.
The thunderdome of your hair.
The prairie winds of your forehead.
The hedgerows of your eyebrows.
The surfacing air bubbles of your eyes.
The candlelight of your smile.

3 – 11 – 07