Landscape, with Sunlight and Bits of Clay

This entry is part 52 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011


Because I admired a glazed plate veined with
obsidian and blue-green, my friend took me
to visit a potter in his studio. He worked
the local clay, prodded the wet mass on the wheel
into a wide-lipped vessel from which to pour
the milk or wine, mugs from which to drink,
dishes to hold warm slabs of meat or beautiful
smoked fish as if they merely leaped from the cold
arms of the river entire, as if their iridescent,
speckled bodies did not thrash when the air
left their lungs… I read of how long
the Buddha sat in the canopy as leaves
of the bodhi tree fell on his plain robes,
fell in the dust at his feet, or swirled away
in runnels of rain— until the torch of desire
burned clean and the pulse in the wrist
ticked like the faintest fragrance in the wind.
I don’t know that I have learned yet
what the green fists of bracken in the grass
have learned, how to open their complex fingers
to the sting of rain as if to say Let it come
Sunlight gilds every surface today
but also knifes through every anguish;
and I don’t know who or what I address
as I lift my face and say Not yet.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series Navigation← MarksSlaying the Beast →


One Reply to “Landscape, with Sunlight and Bits of Clay”

  1. I don’t know that I have learned yet/ … to say Let it come—/…or what I address/ as I lift my face and say Not yet.


    When the torch of desire burns clean
    you would have learned all there is to learn:

    To give, Datta. To feel and care, Dayadhvam.
    To own and control, Damyata. Therefore,

    To love beyond all loving because it is pure
    like the mother suckles her infant. Give.

    To know when caring will make things grow
    like the raindrops nourish but will not sting.

    To have and to hold even when that lashes
    irreducible hurts to weary hearts that care.

    It is for this that, naked, we halloo in the rain,
    Let it come! Let all desires fill our dry vessels.

    Then we wake to the warm caress of the Sun
    for the day is always new, the flower lovely.

    Is not the rose lovelier when its thorns sharpen?
    Does not the potter’s knife need its razor edge

    To clean the lips of the wine jar and smoothen
    its mouth that lovers may drink to great desire?

    Bare your body then to its wild abandon, salve
    it with the cool spring water now welled

    from the earth, and turn your face to meet
    the sunlight, defy the anguish. Never say, not yet.

    Let it come! Let the leaves fall on this Upanishad,
    because the leap of faith is never to say not yet.

    —Albert B. Casuga

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