It feels funny to be wearing a rain coat :
the beckoning dawn counts my steps
as I walk, stiff in the hips from a restless
night, empty in places, shuffling along dark streets
opened by a cloudy moon and the distant bellow
of early ships coming in to port. It’s funny because
it’s raining–little kisses from clouds
cast patchy against the moon, this morning shaped
into an extended tear drop; a droplet
elongated against a pane of glass, dripped at the edges
and curled by gravity– it’s raining, and here I am
wearing a rain coat, on my way for a swim.

It’s as if I didn’t want to get wet
from something less holy than the salty unkissed
sea.

A lazy car passes me, tires squelching against the wet streets like
crinkling up a plastic sack. It’s not so black now :
the moon becomes less fuzzy.

A pebble snuggles into the crevasse of my sandal,
hugging up against the arch of my foot. Sand curls up
over the sole, like the waves that will come today with the tide.
I feel the sand between my toes. It rains, still
I find it funny : the dawn collaborates for a full
immersion. I drape the jacket over my towel, pull off my
pajama pants. A breeze lifts from the shield
of the water, spraying my knees with cold sea.

My feet feel it first–
I always regret this tactic, this slow approach
this test of courage, this one by one–this sea
is a fresh sea, a sea of heavy hollowness which
welcomes me, as I dip
one-by-one
shins, my knees, the hips, the edges
of elbows slide against the water, flicking
droplets against the warmth of my sleepy
belly, shivering slightly I release it all and just
plunge, down, deep beneath water, down to the cold
which fills, fills me fully, fills my breath with gasps
and splutters and tight
release–warmth, now, warmth which fills
from the inside of me a place deeper than
the breath I can feel that rocks me, sways me, side to side
like the fishing boats that bobble–

The dawn comes.
Patchy, against clouds, the moon still long
cobalt rises along the edges, wrapping the mountains
in fine silhouette.

O how the valley awakens–


 

In Conjectures of an Innocent Bystander, Thomas Merton writes the following, which has permeated something deep within me. I can’t shake it. It’s too beautiful, too rich and full :

“The first chirps of the waking day birds mark the ‘point vierge’ of the dawn under a sky as yet without real light, a moment of awe and inexpressible innocence, when the Father in perfect silence opens their eyes. They begin to speak to Him, not with fluent song, but with an awakening question that is their dawn state, their state at the ‘point vierge’.

Their condition asks if it is time for them to ‘be.’ He answers ‘yes.’ Then, they one by one wake up, and become birds. They manifest themselves as birds, beginning to sing. Presently they will be fully themselves, and will even fly.

Meanwhile, the most wonderful moment of the day is that when creation in its innocent asks permission to ‘be’ once again, as it did on the first morning that ever was.

All wisdom seeks to collect and manifest itself at that blind sweet point. Man’s wisdom does not succeed, for we are fallen into self-mastery and cannot ask permission of anyone. We face our mornings as men of undaunted purpose. We know the time and we dictate terms . . . we will say in advance what kind of day it has to be . . .

Here is an unspeakable secret: paradise is all around us and we do not understand. It is wide open . . . ‘Wisdom,’ cries the dawn deacon, but we do not attend.”

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