Further Heartness – 14 Matters of the Heart + 1


You don’t mind if Valentines goes on a little longer, do you?  Hearts like these are too good to pass up.  When they throw themselves at my feet, who am I to argue?


Here and Now – 14 Matters of the Heart


I don’t know what you want for Valentine’s Day, but I think I can guess.

No matter how I turn things over in my mind, when it comes down to this minute, this very minute, I want to be heard.  I don’t know any better way to be heard than this:  look for what is beautiful, and bring it to you.  There is only one letter difference between “hearD” and the word we have been concerned with these last 14 days – “hearT.”

Hear.  Heart.  Heard.

I think you know what I want to say.  I hope you can hear me.

Leap of Heart – 14 Matters of the Heart


Making a leap of the heart is by far my greatest challenge.  I probably ask all the wrong questions.  I ask, “Will things work out?  Will I get hurt?  Will I make a mistake?”  Everyone knows you can’t answer these questions, but it is the curse of adulthood to believe they are relevant to living into what you want.

Instead, I wish I could hear that tender center beating, and comprehend its language, rippling out in shards of life and budding branches.  “Life” is a typo there – I meant to type “light.”  I think I’ll leave it.  Maybe it is just the sign I am looking for.

Well Loved -14 Matters of the Heart


I try to decipher their stories – unthreaded dots and dashes, dust motes glimpsed in the sunshine beyond a photographer’s shoulder.

Is their business here finished?  I don’t think so.  A shirt lies in a mending basket, waiting to be repaired.  This little girl needed a button in her hair.

What they tell is this:  My heart becomes fuller in the very use by which it exhausts itself.  Her story is still being written.

Mother of Pearl Sutra – 14 Matters of the Heart


Mother of pearl fascinates me.  Forming a topography as idiosyncratic as the ridges in a finger print, crystal aragonite platelets accumulate in layers on the inner surface of mollusks, entombing parasites and cushioning the animal’s soft body.  Micron by micron, the crystals combine their refractive power into a zillion infinitesimally tiny prisms, creating an ever changing iridescence that we see only when the mollusk surrenders to the crack of hungry teeth or knives.  Even the scientific description of the process is poetic.

This dual purpose mechanism, both care-taking and defensive, is so human.  It mimics way we build the inner story we tell about ourselves, seen by others in its infinite refractions, and the way we live with how we love.

When I looked up the synonym “nacre,” one thing led to another, and brought me to this poem by Llorca.

The Faithless Wife

So I took her to the river
believing she was a maiden,
but she already had a husband.
It was on St. James night
and almost as if I was obliged to.
The lanterns went out
and the crickets lighted up.
In the farthest street corners
I touched her sleeping breasts
and they opened to me suddenly
like spikes of hyacinth.
The starch of her petticoat
sounded in my ears
like a piece of silk
rent by ten knives.
Without silver light on their foliage
the trees had grown larger
and a horizon of dogs
barked very far from the river.

Past the blackberries,
the reeds and the hawthorne
underneath her cluster of hair
I made a hollow in the earth
I took off my tie,
she too off her dress.
I, my belt with the revolver,
She, her four bodices.
Nor nard nor mother-o’-pearl
have skin so fine,
nor does glass with silver
shine with such brilliance.
Her thighs slipped away from me
like startled fish,
half full of fire,
half full of cold.
That night I ran
on the best of roads
mounted on a nacre mare
without bridle stirrups.

As a man, I won’t repeat
the things she said to me.
The light of understanding
has made me more discreet.
Smeared with sand and kisses
I took her away from the river.
The swords of the lilies
battled with the air.

I behaved like what I am,
like a proper gypsy.
I gave her a large sewing basket,
of straw-colored satin,
but I did not fall in love
for although she had a husband
she told me she was a maiden
when I took her to the river.