Sunday, December 05, 2010

Still/Here Sutra

Still/Here Sutra (Pranayana)

(for Bill T. Jones)


It begins with a circle:
turning on the Wheel of living,
walking out spirals on the floor:

I know I’m going to see so many die
before I die:
    Why don’t I feel: “Why me?”
What are these gates
    we all dance through?
This is an initiation: into what?
Who will receive me? Into death?
All the others who have gone before,
and I alone remain: remain. Alone.
Who will catch me? As I fall?
Alone: together: let me be—alone.
To learn: how not to be afraid:
    of losing all control.
Of losing myself.
Who do you love: if not yourself?
The world is full of light and blues:

the inspiration to get up, to quit this job
that is wasting my time: and live.
Every moment left: is precious.

What am I guilty of? Why
do I even feel this guilt?:
    survivor’s guilt.
Why did they all die:
    and not me?
What do I fear? Dying alone:
    being alone
when I die, surrounded by beloved ghosts.
What do I love? The light, the air,
the land, this body:
    this incarnated world,
inhabited by such wonders, and every kind
of aliveness, even the ones we can’t know.

Still I am here.
Here I am . . . still.
Still here—and laughing.
Here I am: still: being still,
here—in this place.
Still being. Here.
Being here. Still.
    At peace with stillness.
Here. Here, now:
    be still.
    Be here.



It goes on, another circle,
a tangent arced from the life of this boy,
still being with what he strives for:

What I hate most in myself
is my willingness to give away my strength.
My time: my life.
As if it meant so little to me.
I hate my lazy willingness to believe
I have all the time left in the world:
I don’t.
When you know you’re going to die,
you can do anything.
    Why can’t I?

Why must I see them all die first?
Why must I be the last one?—
    I’ve seen it: I know it:
    Either the last one on the battlements,
    fighting the alien horde
    to give my family time to escape;
    or, alone in bed, the last one,
    surrounded by the ghosts
    of everyone I’ve ever loved.

I have Seen it. I Know it.

I thought many times that I must break
under this burden: but I have not.
It would so much easier to break.
Maybe—just maybe: I cannot be broken.
Maybe that is:

I’m still here.
Here I am, still being: still.

A witness: a tether.
The one whose task and sorrow and joy it is
to put up the chairs, and turn out the lights,
and close the door behind him:
    at the end of the world.

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