Notes & Scales - More Circles - Veils - Moses & the Moving Sky - Ra
Notes and Scales
A cave man bangs out a harmony
With a dry femur against two bearskin drums
Singing of the stars and moon
Chu-I teaches his students, in absentia.
All they see are his footprints
Leading upward into the snowy hills,
Pine boughs almost buckling beneath the weight
Aristarchus looks up into the Greek sky
Wondering if that really could be Diana with her bow
Or Andromeda on a rock.
The astronomer adjusts an angle on one of the 115-tonne antennas
and peers into the centre of the Milky Way,
past the anarchy of swirling suns.
He wonders if what lies in the middle of it all is in fact
a supermassive black hole.
He shudders to think that this is only one
of hundreds of billions of galaxies.
He shivers in his lab coat,
though the room is warm in the ALMA Observatory
five kilometres above the Atacama Desert.
Along thin, brief lines of human time
we connect the dots.
We exist at the centre of many points:
self, family, society, world, solar system, galaxy;
points that can become circles or not.
If we want, we can insist on our own point,
telling partners and friends what is what;
telling dissenters, rednecks, communists, greens, gays,
religions, countries, entire cultures to get in line.
Or we can refuse to tell others to get in line,
refuse to draw a line between us and them,
refuse to draw lines in the sand,
or toe the line.
We can refuse to draw any lines at all.
We can circumvent lines altogether by drawing circles,
outward from the self
beyond sex and colour
beyond colour and politics
beyond national will wider and wider
circles beyond our water supply and factories
beyond our GDP and national interest
beyond even our deepest allegiances
to friends, family, religion, language, culture
circles beyond our own definitions
circles, endless circles
round as the turning world.
I’ve spent my life looking through veils:
childhood veils of ego and hunger
adolescent veils of anger and lust
veils of Heaven and Hell
and Guru Dev mysticism
being and nothingness
politics and rage
my own unending needs
and everlasting hypocrisies.
I wonder, How many more veils will I look through
until I see my self for what it is:
drifting in immensity?
The Sufis say there are seventy-seven thousand veils
which the Christians boil down to seven
deadly sins, the chief among these
the first and the last: pride
(I understand it all)
Moses & the Moving Sky
Moses lifted his eyes from the ground
and saw that everything moved:
the winds twisted and the sky wheeled,
with its piercing yellow ball from one end of the horizon to the next.
But the ground stood absolutely still.
The sand dunes of time drifted this way and that
but the ground beneath them didn't shift.
More constant than the great sun-god Ra,
the deep stone edifice of Earth
was deeper than oceans, more solid than the god-filled sky.
Moses lowered his eyes to the ground
And saw that it didn't move.
You who are always beyond our reach,
You who are sixty times sixty times sixty leagues from the earth,
Yet still we cannot look you in the eye.