D. R. James
I live in the woods east of Saugatuck, Michigan, just a few miles from the western shore of Lake Michigan, with my wife, psychotherapist Suzy Doyle. Between us we have six grown children, two daughters-in-law, four grand children, and two cats. I have been teaching writing, literature and peace-making at Hope College for 33 years, and my most recent book of poems is If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press, 2017).
This life of separateness may be compared to a dream, a phantasm,
a bubble, a shadow, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning.
The heat kicking in at precisely five a.m.
stirs the shirred glass chimes dangling over
the open vent, their fragile song reminding me
I am alone. Outside, where I know too-early
browns loom in the dark where constant white
should lighten this time of year—here, far
north of the end of Mardi Gras—one car
purrs by per hour. A semi ascending the hill,
up-shifting its dissonance across the cushion
of the dumb neighborhood, will turn left
at the next intersection, head east to open road,
and merge with the world. This separateness
is indeed a dream, though priests today will call
the many to mourn whatever separates them
from God and from each other, then swipe soaked
ash across their foreheads in remembrance that
we’re all just dust. Which is true, but in this
blue mood I prefer the Buddha’s drop of dew
and picture its sole self temporarily resting
upon a palm leaf before a breeze shivers it
earthward or the desert sun draws it skyward—
in either case to mingle it by absorption
or by evaporation into the eternal system
of one. Which is really only a better way
of getting it wrong. Poor sentient drop, alive
in the thought it has ever left its sisters and brothers,
who in their own dreams manufacture fantastic
bubbles but imagine wry shadow, or lightning.
“Ash Wednesday” was first published in Talking River 38 (Spring 2015).
© 2018 D.R.James
© 2018 D.R.James
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