Friday, September 29, 2006

Knowing Which Way To Turn...

     This post is for my friend, Suzy, and for anyone else out there struggling with "knowing" what we need.  Not unlike Marge Piercy's poem, I believe we ALL know somewhere deep within ourselves EXACTLY what to do, where to turn, and which way to go...right or wrong, it is OUR way.



The Perpetual Migration  

How do we know where we are going?

How do we know where we are headed

till we in fact or hope or hunch

arrive?  You can only criticize,

the comfortable say, you don’t know

what you want.  Ah, but we do.


We have swung in the green verandas

of the jungle trees.  We have squatted

on cloud-grey granite hillsides where

every leaf drips.  We have crossed

badlands where the sun is sharp as flint.

We have paddled into the tall dark sea

in canoes.  We always knew.


Peace, plenty, the gentle wallow

of intimacy, a bit of Saturday night

and not too much Monday morning,

a chance to choose, a chance to grow,

the power to say no and yes, pretties

and dignity, an occasional jolt of truth.


The human brain, wrinkled slug, knows

like a computer, like a violinist, like

a bloodhound, like a frog.  We remember

backwards a little and sometimes forwards,

but mostly we think in the ebbing circles

a rock makes on the water.


The salmon hurtling upstream seeks

the taste of the waters of its birth

but the seabird on its four-thousand-mile

trek follows charts mapped on its genes.

The brightness, the angle, the sighting

of the stars shines in the brain luring

till inner constellation matches outer.


The stark black rocks, the island beaches

of waveworn pebbles where it will winter

look right to it.  Months after it set

forth it says, home at last, and settles.

Even the pigeon beating its short whistling

wings knows the magnetic tug of arrival.


In my spine a tidal clock tilts and drips

and the moon pulls blood from my womb.

Driven as a migrating falcon, I can be blown

off course yet if I turn back it feels

wrong.  Navigating by chart and chance

and passion I will know the shape

of the mountains of freedom, I will know.


(And a special thank you to the wonderful and wise teacher who shared this poem with ME for the first know who you are!)





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