Poem excerpts used in “Morning, Afternoon, Evening” Taken from “The Subject and Power” by Kyra Jucovy © 2012 I. Morning All things begin in darkness, such as The day, because, no matter how you define it, There is always that moment of darkness When the sun peeks out; there is darkness, For, in order for the light to prick holes through the sky, There must be a dark veil to be pricked. In order for the sun’s head to poke out, It must first be underneath the blankets. All things begin in darkness, such as The river. We are standing by the spring now, Where the water leaps to greet the air, But this is only the source we can get to. Down beneath the grey stones is never-challenged darkness, Crystalline caves echoing with the water dropping, Pooling up, and creating pressure until It bursts forth here where we are now. All things begin in darkness, such as Our journey. Only night-vision guides us as we set out, Step by tentative step, Only night-vision and the soft susurrus Of the snaking route beside us in the darkness, But darkness will not last forever, And so the dawn begins when the sky begins to brighten, And the river begins when the streamlet trickles down to the meeting place, And the journey has begun but continues as we pick our way By the whispering streamlet Over the primordial mud on the rocks Into the indecipherable glow of the sky Until the rushing friends begin to mingle Until the whisper turns to gurgling laughter Until the glowing light coalesces as sun Until it becomes easier to rush down like the stream beside us, Until the stream beside us hits the gaps, Halts, holds its breath, leaps – falls – Until water falls! Waterfalls! Waterfalls – where the paints spilled by the sun Pour down glittering over the white ridges, Where the laughter becomes cacophony, Where the simple becomes complex, Where a sheer chaotic swirl bounces forth Like a little explosion of Heaven bursting on the Earth, A bomb of joy destroying mundanity, The breath of love diffusing in our hearts – I love the waterfalls reflecting the daylight, Which is why I bless the light. I adore being here at this point, Which is why I bless the journey. There is perfection in the glinting rainbows of waterfalls, Except for the cold wind rising up behind us I do not understand the wind, deeply, But I wonder – does the wind arise in darkness Does the wind secretly sneak out of some metaphorical darkness, Or is the wind birthed abominably within the light To chase us cruelly down the mountain? I could stay by waterfalls forever, Except that we have made plans to go on a journey, And except that there is a cold wind rising up behind us, Sapping the comfort from the banks, And except that the rainbows will be destroyed in darkness, And so we continue to tumble down the mountain, As the streams combine, edging parabolically towards river, As the colors brighten, the world blooming into full day, And as the wind is ever at our backs. The force that pulls us forth is gravity, desire, But violence is the force that pushes us on. II. Afternoon The nature of our location has long been plain. Plains, it is clear, are flat and broad. The ideal plain is covered with green – Green grass, flowers, life shooting up to greet the sun. Sometimes plains mutate into forests, Which are shady respite, restful nuance To the sunbaked continuity of plains, Darker browns and softer shade, What lurk behind the plain and the forest are two things: One – the flatness, so that, when the soft breeze rubs against our faces, It would take ten thousand years until our gaze breaks Against the blips, more like symbols now than mountains, And, when we look where we intuitively know must be downwards, There is no visible hint of slope, And where we are could last forever; And two – the river, a blue mirror of the green in the plains, A level pause in the midst of the forest, But always the river, the same concept in every context, Eternally threading through the landscape mat like fate, Gravity, desire, violence – omnipresent. The category is the middle. The category is a balance. The category is the farthest point. The category is the afternoon Of our journey, For, as we travel easily, lazily, over the river banks, Bask in the sun, dawdle in the shade, As the river rumbles in its broad, steady maturity, As the buzz of insects suffuses the afternoon with calm, Although I cannot deny a certain aura of suspension, A moment stretching, backward and forwards, some twenty thousand years, Our presence implies a progress. We are journeying yet. Our stagnation is uncorrelated with rest. We are journeying yet, Even if motion has blurred into stillness. We are journeying yet, I have not forgotten the mountains, But I only experience them now as abstractions, Symbolic, removed, remembered, but only remembered. Life is and therefore must have been always Easy and flat, step by unhesitant step. I have not forgotten the waterfalls, My journey has removed me from the waterfalls. What is absent is not what is present. What is present has the quality of eternity, Even if it has not the property of eternity, I have not forgotten gravity, desire, violence, But gravity is hidden in the vales, And desire has devolved into a parody, As desire always devolves into a parody One might define habit as a parody of desire. I know journeying devolves into a habit When the motive force of each step after step Stops being a vital power and retreats into a past self So that one’s mind disconnects from one’s body, And someone else seems to be in control. Whatever thoughts, feelings, and desires Flicker in the spirit there is no connection to the journey And so one is alive and thinking and simultaneously A ghost and a robot programmed by a ghost In a repetitive loop of action. Not that there is anything wrong with journeying. Not that I fail to take pleasure in journeying, And the day is warm, and the sounds are soft, The light is lovely and the flowers fragrant, The colors bright and the company engaging, The weariness bearable and the routine comfortable, But the desire is veiled and hidden. As for violence – I have not forgotten the wind, But the wind is and must have been always A ghost itself, a hint only, and certainly pleasant. I wonder why I ever chose the wind as a symbol When it is not only material but also Mundane and barely noticeable. After ten thousand years, we become desensitized to violence. The journey is and therefore must have been always, But that is self-evident. Evening Part 1 Transition into Evening All things end in darkness, such as The day, which is something that ends slowly. As we walk on, there is a gradual dimming. The sun is no light bulb to blink out in an instant, But it is as though you look up, and the sky is blue – Then – you think the sky is still blue but You realize that the quality of light is different – As though the sky has been folded back on itself – It always was, you think, a blanket, And now it is just doubled back to darken. The sun has grown old throughout the day. Now it is no child playing with bright blues and greens. It has taken up a different sort of paint, and, behind us, Spills of it like autumn leaves or berry stains Begin to alter the plain pattern. All things end in darkness, such as The river. Out ahead of us, sky and sea become darkness. Limits are blurred, everything is blurred, The sound of water beating back on the shore is a blurring sound. The scent of salt in the air is a blurring of boundaries. This sharpness is dying away, All to be consumed by darkness. All things end in darkness, such as Our journey. Part 2: Reverie She says, all things begin in darkness. She asks, do you remember the spring, Bubbling and frothy, pouring forth The water liberated from eons of caved darkness? I say, I remember the spring, But all things end in darkness. She asks, do you remember the dawn, And the first gleamings of light as the blanket became thinner? I say, I remember the dawn, But all things end in darkness. She says, do you remember the mountains, How hard it was to clamber down over the rocks, Without slipping, the long distant view down When our gaze followed gravity twenty thousand years into the distance? I say, I remember the mountains, But all things end in darkness. She says, do you remember the wind When it seemed to bring a hint of snow and chill, As if to remind us that the mountains stretch up beyond Even our imaginations, into the snow-capped peaks at the start of the world? I say, I remember the wind, But all things end in darkness. She says, do you remember the plains, Where we walked together and laughed, And the river was wide and untroubled? I say, I remember the plains, But all things end in darkness. She says, do you remember the flowers, Whose fragrance was almost imperceptible, A hint, only, but pervasive, stretching throughout the day, And whose colors gave beauty to the light? I say, I remember the flowers, But all things end in darkness. She says, do you remember our journey. I say, I remember our journey. She says, all things begin in darkness, So I want you to take my hand. Part 3 Gravity She says, all things begin in darkness, Of course, there is a general drift downwards into darkness, But gravity is not the only force. If it were, then gravity would already be forgotten, As all things crunched together in an eternal compaction. For gravity to start, there must be separation. The water that has succumbed to gravity is stained by exhilaration, Excited, jumps up, invisibly leaping out against the call of gravity, Then darts, freed, through the air. The water once imprisoned in caves away from the sun, Has finally reached its fruition, its ultimate experience of freedom, Until the enthusiasm dies away, And habit can no longer conquer the absence of desire, And freedom devolves, first into formation, Then precipitation, guided by gravity, So eventually, whether it is an immediate response, Or long delayed by eons hidden in pools below the earth, Each particle will return to the streamlets, And once again meet and join and flow down to the mouth, Guided again by gravity, And thus it is here, in the darkness and expanses, That gravity is made possible, Here, where gravity fails to reign tyrannically, Only here can be the source of gravity, So I want you to take my hand Part 4 Violence The spray beats endlessly against my face. I am still. She says, all things begin in darkness. Here, where we stand, the storm will hit, The waves will crash, water will eat away at land, Eroding and devouring these tiny pebbles beneath our feet, The tenacious remainder of a history of assault, Eventually to be reclaimed and made again into darkness, And so, yes, there is violence here, But it pales next to the violence in the darkness, Where in the midst of the storm there is no land to be assaulted, Only water combatting water in a never-ending battle, Sea rising up and lashing in pain against the sky, Sky falling down in rivulets against the sea, Water on water, surge against surge, Sea and sky indistinguishable, both nothing more Than whirlpools of insistent water clashing, crashing. One endless stream of white water up and down in chaos, A waterfall and waterrise turned from cacophony into something more intense, All the noise and all the power in the world engulfed in water. We live on the land, And so of course the force of water, Surging back against its children, Raging to recover what has become separate, Is the force that dismays us, Destroys our shelter, shocks us So I want you to take my hand. Part 5 Desire I say, so gravity begins in darkness, and violence, But what then of desire? She says... Desire, I think, is like gravity, It is only after something has defied gravity That you can see the beginning of gravity. Only, when something is empty of desire, Can you see the beginnings of desire. If desire begins in the darkness, And if, as you insist, desire ends in the darkness, Then there must be a moment, out there, in the darkness, Empty of desire, a moment or an eternity of stillness, Without even the ghost of desire. Does desire build on desire? Yes, I am sure a million hopes and dreams Spark each other in the human mind, As the rush of gravity would pull the stream More and more quickly down towards the bottom, But each candle once lit, though it may light another before the end, Burns out inexorably. Eventually the wax melts, And all that is left are the stains of color dotting the tablecloth. What fire rages forever? All stability is cyclic. where there is nothing, There is everything to be desired. When you were a mind, and a ghost, and a robot programmed by a ghost, How real was your desire? If the darkness kills desire, It is also where desire will be born again. When you reach a goal, and the ghost dies, Then only can untainted desire rise from the ashes, So I want you to take my hand. Part 6 Interlude The sun has covered its paints with the blanket; The birds are asleep; darkness is behind me And in front of me, we are almost already In the darkness and the water. I can feel it all over me, With darkness and water surrounding me, above and below, Left and right, before and behind, I have no sense of direction, But, without direction, I can have no sense of gravity. There is no easiest path to take. She says, I want you to take my hand. Fat drops of rain blur together with ocean spray. If I am without gravity, I may also be without desires. There are no distinctions, And one path is as good as another, And she wants me to take her hand. Part 7 Epiphany Violence is justified in self-defense, I hear But otherwise one is pushed by violence, not pulled by it Surely it is better to avoid violence. Surely one universal desire is to escape violence. Out there in the darkness, she told me, there is violence, Endless violence, the sea will seem calm but at its core, violence The sharks are eternally moving in the water, I hear, the mermaids have sharp teeth They bite into you and your blood pours out into the ocean. If violence was the force that pushed us on, towards the darkness, If violence lives in the darkness, And pushed us out of the darkness If the quake that splits the earth to lift up the mountains is violence And the sea tears at the land in violence, fighting to take back What once arose out of it, pushed by violence Then the whole world is formed in violence. We may wish – I do wish – for the vales to last forever, But the vales are a thin veneer between earthquakes and tsunamis. We cannot stretch it thinner When the world is a unity, When sea is sky and darkness darkness, Only by tearing things apart can we return to distinctions. Maybe peace can conquer violence, next time. We need to make the space to create it in, Make for thicker vales. Here, in the present maelstrom of violence, My hair is whipped around by the wind, Already wet and dripping little streamlets of its own, And I say, all things begin in darkness. The wind is loud, the thunder fierce, The sea fighting back with its own howls. She needs to shout. She shouts, from here on, We will become the darkness. Part 8 Returning We grab hands. Holding hands, forming a line, we rush together Out away from the majestic mountains, Into the pools where the water begins to creep up our legs, Out away from the plains, Into the salt and the streams of water caused by sudden darting fish, Out away from the darkness, Into the darkness, Sea and sky and land drop away, Darkness is darkness is darkness. We are rushing now, now that our journey Has ended and begun, rushing forth Out past the mouth into the sea, Out past our fear into emptiness, Holding hands, together, sweeping on In the struggle to become the darkness.