on bedraggled life…and hope

Rime Forest

That beauty near-death voyagers describe,
returned to their bodies with heart thumps,
or try to describe before they realize words
are to the eternal as the dark is to a lamp,

might be close to this, as if we’ve entered
a mile long hologram of spiral nebulae
or the neuro-networks of a frozen brain,
everything glazed and glistening, clarified

in a silence of hanging windchimes, even the smallest
twig an icy capillary, every millet blade
diamond-spined. Walk for a moment
over the snow crust and the sound is stiff brocade,

the feeling slight gliding. Every reflection
seems a further facet of a farther star,
and at the nexus of white galaxies,
synaptic leapings in the sycamore,

ski trails down a broken milkweed pod,
a crystal river through the interstice
of two larch boughs. Every branch and needle
backlit by each other, Victorian lace,

chandelier pinecones, the last jet vapor trails
criss-crossed in a fallen maple leaf.
Breathe slowly, look long,  In only hours
bedraggled life will reassert itself

and shaking melted colors from the sun,
tend onwards as dawn. In a day or less,
mud and rocks and damaged undergrowth,
the basal rosettes of the winter cress.

~Dick Allen

This poem describes a scene of transcendent beauty that the poet strolled through on a moonlit, ice-covered woods.  While reading it, it struck me like a barreling train.  I was caught up in the imagery, thinking that it so perfectly describes the “mountain-top experience”, that place where the Universe is singing to me, where spiritual insights surprise and engulf me.  The place where hope resides.  When I got to the last few stanzas, I felt strongly reminded that after the mountain-top, the desert.  After the times of insight, the fall into the everydayness of life’s challenges, perhaps even into a dark place.  I was reminded that the loosening of the knots requires both the transcendent beauty and the return to the mud and rocks and damaged undergrowth.  I felt a sense of rest replace my anxiety and self-recrimination.  I felt the gentle brush of hope’s wings against my cheek and was filled with gratitude.