The night sits wherever you are. Your night is of lilac. Every now and then a gesture escapes from the beam of your dimples, breaks the wineglass and lights up the starlight. And your night is your shadow— a fairy-tale piece of land to make our dreams equal. I am not a traveler or a dweller in your lilac night, I am he who was one day me. Whenever night grew in you I guessed the heart’s rank between two grades: neither the self accepts, nor the soul accepts. But in our bodies a heaven and an earth embrace. And all of you is your night … radiant night like planet ink. Night is the covenant of night, crawling in my body anesthetized like a fox’s sleepiness. Night diffusing a mystery that illuminates my language, whenever it is clearer I become more fearful of a tomorrow in the fist. Night staring at itself safe and assured in its endlessness, nothing celebrates it except its mirror and the ancient shepherd songs in a summer of emperors who get sick on love. Night that flourished in its Jahili poetry on the whims of Imru’ el-Qyss and others, and widened for the dreamers the milk path to a hungry moon in the remoteness of speech …
A black cat among roses, Phlox, lilac-misted under a first-quarter moon, The sweet smells of heliotrope and night-scented stock. The garden is very still, It is dazed with moonlight, Contented with perfume, Dreaming the opium dreams of its folded poppies. Firefly lights open and vanish High as the tip buds of the golden glow Low as the sweet alyssum flowers at my feet. Moon-shimmer on leaves and trellises, Moon-spikes shafting through the snow ball bush. Only the little faces of the ladies’ delight are alert and staring, Only the cat, padding between the roses, Shakes a branch and breaks the chequered pattern As water is broken by the falling of a leaf. Then you come, And you are quiet like the garden, And white like the alyssum flowers, And beautiful as the silent sparks of the fireflies. Ah, Beloved, do you see those orange lilies? They knew my mother, But who belonging to me will they know When I am gone.
Why worry about the loaves and fishes? If you say the right words, the wine expands. If you say them with love and the felt ferocity of that love and the felt necessity of that love, the fish explode into many. Imagine him, speaking, and don’t worry about what is reality, or what is plain, or what is mysterious. If you were there, it was all those things. If you can imagine it, it is all those things. Eat, drink, be happy. Accept the miracle. Accept, too, each spoken word spoken with love.
Happy 21st birthday to my eldest child, Judah, who holds brilliant light, extraordinary musical and artistic gifts, and a deep well of quiet wisdom in his young heart!
For Your Birthday
by John O’Donohue
Blessed be the mind that dreamed the day The blueprint of your life Would begin to glow on earth, Illuminating all the faces and voices That would arrive to invite Your soul to growth.
Praised be your father and mother, Who loved you before you were, And trusted to call you here With no idea who you would be.
Blessed be those who have loved you Into becoming who you were meant to be, Blessed be those who have crossed your life With dark gifts of hurt and loss That have helped to school your mind In the art of disappointment.
When desolation surrounded you, Blessed be those who looked for you And found you, their kind hands Urgent to open a blue window In the grey wall formed around you.
Blessed be the gifts you never notice, Your health, eyes to behold the world, Thoughts to countenance the unknown, Memory to harvest vanished days, Your heart to feel the world’s waves, Your breath to breathe the nourishment Of distance made intimate by earth.
On this echoing-day of your birth, May you open the gift of solitude In order to receive your soul; Enter the generosity of silence To hear your hidden heart, Know the serenity of stillness To be enfolded anew By the miracle of your being.
Those who will not slip beneath the still surface of the well of grief turning downward through its black water to the place we cannot breathe will never know the source from which we drink, the secret water, cold and clear, nor find in the darkness glimmering the small round coins thrown away by those who wished for something else.