Poetry Porch: Poetry


Conversations with My Tears
By Elizabeth Reeke

    Do tears not yet spilled
          wait in small lakes?
    Or are they invisible rivers
         that run toward sadness?

               — Pablo Neruda, The Book of Questions

So much suffering, so much violence, so much sorrow,
Beating, shooting, stabbing, killing one another,
         raping pillaging;
Fighting for land, for resources, for control;
The very planet pummeled with abuse and destruction;
                           east to west.

Is there a tally somewhere of good and evil?
What is humankind capable of?
However to fashion a life in the midst of such sadness?

Who are we humans who find ourselves with such looming problems?
Scientists tell us sixty-six million years ago it all began,
One huge asteroid collided with earth,
A simple chance encounter that made all the difference;
Demise of the dinosaurs,
Emergence of the mammals.
Now, all these years later, finds a species
         peering into black holes!
And yet, and yet, we can’t seem to be kind to one another.
All our capacity for language and thought and understanding,
All the sciences, the arts, literature, music;
Where are we going?

Through all the ages people have come together
         aiming for a more ideal life, a higher vision;
So today, Auroville, in Tamil Nadu,
Some 3500 people from 58 nations,
         building a community,
Celebrating diversity,
Above politics, nationalities, creeds,
Learning to live sustainably, committed to man’s
         cultural, environmental, and spiritual needs.

How many Aurovilles would it take to remove
         the “us” and the “them”;
         to heal a world torn by strife?

Rumi teaches us the practice of loving-kindness
         is the path to finding our connectedness,
         each in our own unique way.
“There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”*
         To be a source of compassion,
         to reach out a hand,
         to honor the earth.

But how many awakenings would it take to change our direction?
How very small our lives!

In India thousands of tiny rubies wash up on the shore,
         little gems they call “beads of sorrow,”
         carefully gathered by the beggars and traded for rice.
Could our tears be like those little rubies?
Flowing towards sadness,
Connecting peoples all across the globe,
In our tears could we find our salvation?

Meanwhile, life moves on, ever changing;
More and more information, faster and faster,
More and more ways to plug in, to tune out,
No time for stillness, for contemplation, for birdsong.

Meanwhile, lands are burning, species dying,
Bullets and missiles flying,
Glaciers melting, beaches flooding,
Bombs and rifles and executions,
Drilling, plastics, air pollutions;
A president speaks his ugly words
         for crowds that roar with glee.
Where are we going?
Shoppers shopping, shopping, shopping,
More and more stuff, more and more deals,
More and more billions.
Where are we going?

Here in the clear, bright light of the moon,
         in the shadows of the pines,
Thoughts of future flicker, now here, now there;
Now the sorrow, now the tears,
Now the beauty and kindness,
The inspiration of passionate, dedicated souls
         all across the globe;
What lies ahead?
What will tip the balance?
Will we find our way?

Copyright © 2020 by Elizabeth Reeke.
*Joan Halifax, “The Way of Compassion,” The Fruitful Darkness (198).