Jean Marie Gunner

Jean Marie Gunner
We are all basically good.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Poem from The House of Belonging

What I Must Tell Myself

Above the water
and against the mountain
the geese fly through the
brushed darkness
of the early morning
and out into the light,

they travel over
my immovable house
with such unison
of faith
and with such
assurance
toward the south

cresting the mountains
and the long
coast of a continent

as they move
each year
toward a horizon
they have learned
to call their own.

I know this house,
and this horizon,
and this world I have made.
I know this silence
and the particular treasures
and terrors
of this belonging
but I cannot know the world
to which I am going.

I have only this breath
and this presence
for my wings
and they carry me
in my body
whatever I do
from one hushed moment
to another.

I know my innocence
and I know my unknowing
but for all my successes
I go through life
like a blind child
who cannot see,
arms outstretched
trying to put together
a world.


And the world
works on my behalf
catching me in its arms
when I go too far.

I don’t know what
I could have done
to have earned such faith.

But what of all the others
and the bitter lovers
and the ones who were not held?

Life turns like a slow river
and suddenly you are there
at the edge of the water
with all the rest
and the fire carries the
feast and the laughter
and in the darkness
away from the fire
the unspoken griefs
that still
make togetherness
but then

just as suddenly
it has become a fireless
friendless
night again
and you find yourself alone
and you must speak to the stars
or the rain-filled clouds
or anything at hand
to find your place.

When you are alone
you must do anything
to believe
and when you are
abandoned
you must speak
with everything
you know
and everything you are
in order
to belong.

If I have no one to turn to
I must claim my aloneness.

If I cannot speak
I must reclaim the prison
of my body.

If I have only darkness
I must claim the night.

And then,
even in the closest dark
the world
can find me

and if I have honor
enough
for the place in which it finds me
I will know
it is speaking to me
and where I must go.

Watching the geese
go south I find
that
even in silence
and even in stillness
and
even in my home
alone
without a thought
or a movement
I am part
of a great migration
that will take me to another place.

And though all the things I love
may pass away and
the great family of things and people
I have made around me
will see me go,
I feel them living in me
like a great gathering
ready to reach a greater home.

When one thing dies all things
die together, and must live again
in a different way,
when one thing
is missing everything is missing,
and must be found again
in a new whole
and everything wants to be complete,
everything wants to go home
and the geese traveling south
are like the shadow of my breath
flying into the darkness
on great heart-beats
to an unknown land where I belong.

This morning they have
found me,
full of faith,
like a blind child,
nestled in their feathers,
following the great coast of the wind
to a home I cannot see.

 


~David Whyte
from his book of poems
the House of Belonging

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