Hair of Insight   (for my friends in and of Chicago)

A man in front of me
fainted and fell
as I waited in line
for my flight
to be changed. I felt
in that moment
except an urgency
to make it to where
I would see again
and dissolve things
with my breathing.
I was not cold.
I was there, but only
in a fragile
way. And not
really open
to the man.
Others helped him.
His son
seemed blank
and I did not
understand him
as I looked to read
of his father
on his face.
I became again
calm and more
in the moment
as I anticipated
joy in my chance
to practice
clear seeing
long enough
to feel the body
in the body
and make a luminous float
of the world.
The journey
was long.
I could almost
have taken the roads
in the time it took me
to fly.
I arrived
late at night.
I slept
in a small room
large enough
for a bed
and a sink.
My heart was on the line.
I saw a toad
in the morning, hopping
toward the path. He
made me feel
with his warts, I
nudged him
toward the comfort
of the forest, away
from the traffic
of the path.
I walked
to find the horses, but did not
see them. Instead,
I saw an older woman
with a long white pony tail
braided down her back
cutting the grass
near where the horses
were before. She seemed
to be from the snows
in the mountains, far away. We
spoke silently.
“In the seen,
only the seen.”
I return.
As I walked
in the middle
of my seeing,
I looked down
at the ground
and saw
the shadow
of a hummingbird
before I saw
the emerald green
toward the honeysuckle.
I walked
the woods again
every day. And
every day
it rained.
I saw a brown slug
on the path
and an orange slug
on the path
and another brown
on the path. Once
the slug could feel
that I was there
and reared its head
to turn away.
Later on
I saw another brown
on the steps
to my room
with a trail of slime
behind it.
no trace,
like a bird
in the sky.”
A greenish yellow moth
the size of the palm
of my hand
with long strips
of tail
on its wings
dotted with eyes
rested on the light
on the ceiling
outside the door
the eating room.
The light was on
at night, and off
during the day. The door
opened and closed
under the moth.
The moth
was there
three days
and then it disappeared.
Though it rained
every day, each day
had its clear
and epic moments.
I found the moth again
crawling on the path
in front of me. One of its
wings was torn. I held
out my hand
to it and it climbed
onto my finger. Its antennae
were like small, brown
ferns. I took it
to a honeysuckle
trellis, on the other side
of the building
from where I saw
the hummingbird. It crawled
off of my finger
onto the trellis
where I left it. Later
that night, I searched
for it and at first
could not find it, but then
found it on the leaves
of the honeysuckle
perfectly camouflaged. I felt good
that it might have
a chance
to live, and wondered
how it would regenerate
its wing. On the next night
I searched for it and at first
could not find it,but then
found it on the leaves
of the honeysuckle. It was even
better camouflaged
than before.
I sing no song
except for this one.
Life is my teacher.
Each day I walked
to find the horses, and
did not see them. I saw
their four fields
emptied, but trounced,
recently, by their hooves.
like a praying mantis
opened its wings
and appeared
inside the body
in the body
as I was sitting
in the dark.
Flies and mosquitoes
were a nuisance
as I walked the woods.
My hands
slapped at them
as a horse’s tail
might do. I am
the horse. My friend
is the horse.
I hear hoof steps
in the trees.
Each day I walked by
the flatbed part
of a truck, detached, with reflectors
beaming at me
from its sides. It echoed
the sounds
of my walking
more loudly
than the quiet sounds
I made.
I saw a metallic
green beetle — several of them —
flying like flies
on the path. On another day
in another dream
they would have been messengers
from a glowing world. On
and off
in the countryside.
Other poets
may have written
on these visits, but I
choose not to.
But to be the poem…

Only the light.

Only the darkness.
I returned
to find the moth
on the honeysuckle
trellis. After many rains
it was
no longer there.
I looked for it
on the ground
as well, and could not
find it.
As I sat
in the hall
seeing clearly
with no future
and no past
to speak of, fully burning
in the present moment,
I heard a thud
as someone fell. I was one
with the man
as he fell. Immediately
I looked to help
and found myself
like the sun
in the common
bond we shared.
There are no words for this.
“May you be safe.”

“May you be happy.”
I thought
that he might die.
It rained.
I wept
for the fear
I let go.
My mind
was blown open
by a storm
of the sun. There
was no place
for wasting
lines of capture.
In a single moment
in a single face
I see everyone.
Not you.

Not me.
On the last day
I went to see
the horses
as I did every day. I was
not to find them
there. I sang my songs
and held my palms
open to the world. I moved
in circles and felt the ghosts
of the horses. They
were in my dream. The woman
with the long braided
ponytail appeared
to plant her plants. I asked her
if she still
had the horses. She
said yes, that the flies
were so bad
that she’d put them
inside. I thanked her
for her horses. She was warm
and solid
in her welcome. The horses
were inside
I felt the air.

I felt my breath.
I sang softly
all the way back.
There was a toad
with a small bloody wound
on its leg
on the road. I picked it up
and let it go
in the comfort
of the darkness
of the grass
by the side of the road.
On the last night
as I walked
toward my room
I saw
a black fox
with a white tipped tail
in the light
toward me. When it saw
it turned away
and disappeared
into the darkness. I received
its answer. Black
and white, on
and off, near
the wilderness.

Roberto Harrison (© 2009)