Our Brief & Infinite Forever

I chipped this poem slowly out in January of 2022 as I was trying to name what was giving me hope for our world, which is the fact that we’re here together.

When I say “here,” I mean in the present moment. Yes, we’ve made it to this point in our lives and history with a mix of a few successful moves, an immense number of ordinary acts, and mistakes both minor and colossal, but you know what? We haven’t given up, and we’re here.

The challenge of here is that we struggle to live in the core and root of each moment. I find myself often racing up ahead to the future, or wandering back into the past. Present moments can be challenging to fully inhabit.

“Together” is the part I’m most grateful for, and it’s also where the true power of our world stirs and gathers its breath and song. Although together might not the best word for what I mean. While you and I find ourselves on the same planet, I’m reaching for much more than that. Interconnected is a word that comes closer, and interbeing is even stronger. We are quite literally part of each other, just as we’re part of the land and universe around us. Stardust. Energy. Love. We are together. We are not alone.

So on the night during which I was struggling to write this little verse I put words around the idea of simply, nakedly being here together. Here. Together. Without working at or being anything else at all.

I was also influenced by the book “Lincoln In The Bardo” by George Saunders. I’d never heard of the idea of a bardo before that book gave me a story for it, and I continue to be fascinated. If you’re new to the concept, a bardo is a liminal state between death and rebirth. It’s a state of existence that is profoundly between. And after hearing the stories this new between-moment told, I recognized the bardo, too, as “here together.”

Finally, special thanks to my math-y husband, who taught me that there are many sizes of infinities. What a splendid understanding! It seems to fit nicely with the unusual space/moment of the bardo, and also for the present moment, which is its own small infinity.

That sounds like a lot of messy philosophizing, doesn’t it?

I can distill it easily because in the end, this poem—like many of my poems—is simply a love poem. For my husband, for my sons, for you, for us. Here together, spinning on our blue planet in grace and gravity.

Thank you for reading.

Our Brief & Infinite Forever

I fall into the arms of our passage
and allow the cataract of
silence to crash against our backs.

Lay your head against my chest.
There is nothing to accomplish. No
current of despair

and you and I are not separated.
We flow or linger,
cascade or rise.

No epiphany arrives in light—
all things are let go
to swim away or return.

Fresh-laundered shirts for a two-year-old boy,
a snowy barn. Bonfires, salt.
A clean sink and blue crawdads.

Ocean foam in ribbons. The poem
of every tree. An orange, peeled.
You are not too weak, you

have me, we have here. There is
no distance or despair
in this bardo, our small infinity.

 


“Our Brief & Infinite Forever” was originally published by Vita Brevis Anthology in July 2022

Featured photo by Reuben on Unsplash

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