Emma is the face and the voice of determination and courage.
Emma is the face and the voice of a generation that
Go Emma go.
early morning train sounds a mournful c minor chord,
in the winter rain,
then fades into the distance,
weeping all the while.
Alone with my thoughts on a river of road, I witness fantastical visions in the landscape:
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Of what does the unicorn dream?
Does he envision virgin princesses,
pure and sweet
Trusting and innocent
With scented lap and gentle fingers?
Or crystal castles with vast stables
and endless meadows,
with sweet clover and spicy sorrel,
peopled with hands content to brush
and clean and worship the bright creature?
Or does he dream of darker things,
of war and separation,
of his virgin princess laid bare and ruined,
or his stables burned and raided?
Or does he dream at all?
Is it that he is so pure that he needn’t dream
Because he exists only in dreams?
The heart of the earth beats,
her pulses lapping the shore.
The trembling edge where earth meets sea
and sea meets sky
and sky meets fire.
When at rest, her gentle heart
loves all things, the mother of us all;
When angered, her terrible heart
tosses and breaks, frantic and dangerous.
Her depths in motion, embracing motion;
the flick of a single cell becoming
one with its fellows,
and as one they grow into a force
carrying along everything in their path
until they breach and overwhelm the shore.
The ever-shifting cycle of creation and destruction,
connecting all things,
moving all things,
breathing all things,
feeding all things,
singing all things,
creating and re-creating,
changing all things.
The heart of the earth beats,
her pulses our pulse.
At water’s edge the sun’s full glory break,
Audacious splendor splashing over sea,
As Helios’ chariot dances over wake,
In blazing cloud entrapped, now pulling free,
Down Daniel’s steps descending into deep
And setting fire to heav’n upon the way;
While Erebus with Nyx in darkness steep
The far horizon, veiling night from day.
And on the shore the salty grasses sway
In ev’ning breeze; their music softly sighs,
The sweetest sounds from slender blades arise,
The fading light transforming green to grey.
And thus descends the night upon the world;
The velvet darkness sweeps ‘neath wings unfurl’d.
At water’s edge is magic:
the constantly shifting line between solidity and restless movement,
between reality and dreams,
The water always in motion, even when calm,
the land quietly waiting,
the water overtaking land, signaling the need for catastrophic change
and other times gently rocking, comforting, nourishing
Water embracing land,
land supporting water.
Slow change or sudden,
the change is nevertheless inevitable.
At water’s edge is magic.
It is your heartbeat, and yours,
the shuffling of your feet,
The rustle of the papers in your hands,
A cough, a sneeze, a clearing of your throat.
And it is the restless, constant motion of you, the city,
Your cars and buses,
Construction and heavy machinery,
Bakers’ ovens and chefs’ knives.
The sense of urgency
The subway cars coming and going,
Making their mournful rising minor third on the rails,
Or the other tune, the rising minor seventh and then another major seventh,
Singing as they pull away, there’s a place…
and never finishing the phrase but
letting it collapse into a joyful cluster of dissonance.
For we are already here.
It is this place for us!
And this place has a music all its own,
In every atom,
In every soul,
In every brick,
In every chip of peeling paint or scored plaster,
In its ironworks old and new,
In its ghosts and its living beings,
And they are all us.
In my dream, I flew up to a high place,
and a voice came from within me with the strength of the heavens:
“Be good to one another,” it cried.
And you all called to me: “Be good to one another.”
“Do good works,” I cried.
“Do good works!” You called in return.
“And above all, love one another,” I cried.
“Love one another!” you called.
“Love one another,” I whispered as my heart glowed.
O would you were mine!
I would tell you I love you a thousand small ways,
A soft, gentle smile, a lingering glance,
A sudden caught breath on sensing your gaze,
The pulse at my throat now betraying heart’s dance.
A touch on your cheek, a breath in your ear,
Carrying promises fiery and sweet,
Or gaze downcast when passing you near,
A frisson of excitement when eyes at last meet.
Kindling the night-hearth and sharing its fire,
Passion for passion, desire for desire,
Or tender meets tender, a long-burning flame,
Caress for caress as love whispers your name.
A kiss, a caress, a glance, a long look,
A love open wide, no resistance it brook,
A sigh, a shiver, a sweet evening song,
Safekeeping your heart throughout all the years long.
O were you mine!
Is this what I feel?
Love as madness?
When dreams all peace steal,
and torment is gladness?
I move through day,
phantom breath on my skin,
dark eyes meeting mine,
guarded heart in hand,
in outflung realm where ends one heart and another begin,
or in undiscovered country on God’s sacred land
where soul must meet soul, mingle, become one,
the winds of heaven for song and bless’d river run.
Then open the gates,
let loose the stream,
let madness take hold,
let dreamer dream,
for never have hands held so great a treasure
as the heart of beloved and Beloved in one time,
learning true joy,
distressing false pleasure,
knowing at last the truth in full measure:
Love is madness, madness is love
My heart is yours, and love at last is mine.
In youth doth love the haven of peace elude,
O’erbearing its object with wanton, selfish cry,
Preferring tears for drink, despair for food,
Reveling in wretched fearful sigh.
Time doth pass, becomes now love the haven,
of peace and passion blending dreams the heart,
that monstrous fancy slowly tamed and graven
with modest wish to daily care impart.
When I with saddened eyes saw years march on,
Wronged by love, so wronging love in turn,
removed from love, the haven of peace I won,
asylum did seek, and from compassion turn.
But shrewdly did poor heart pretend to cease,
For now doth wake and love the haven of peace.
O lovely Luna, pause in heavn’ly flight,
veiled in shadow, tarry here awhile
and spend a turn in mortal human plight.
Of radiant aspect hint with tiny smile,
lending heaven’s breath while yet thou breathe,
celestial visage move with human face.
In infant laugh we now Divine believe
that through ourselves a Gift brought to this place.
For ours is heaven, and heaven always here,
in every atom Love serenely move,
and one brave presence all the earth doth cheer
for all is Love, and Love doth in you prove
from shining eye doth all grand heaven shine,
your presence here revealing all Divine.
Author’s note: This poem was inspired by the birth of a beautiful baby girl named Luna, the daughter of dear friends, in 2009. You can hear an audio sample of the song setting here (http://www.rebekkahhilgraves.com/opera/)
O God the teller of tales,
Whose story is already writ,
Forgive me, for I fail
To leave you the telling of it.
O God, the mystical Weaver,
Your fabric far richer than gold,
Forgive this importunate fever;
I even one thread cannot hold.
O God, the celestial Painter,
Whose palette no eye can behold,
Forgive me: my colors are fainter
Than shadow when evening enfold.
O God, the heav’nly Composer,
Your music no less than the skies,
Forgive me my poor sound, no closer
Than silence entombed where it lies.
O God, the Creator of Song,
That sounds in celestial hall,
Forgive me this helping along,
I even one note cannot call.
Thou story, thou fabric, thou canvas, thou tune,
Thou brighter than sun, more mysterious than moon;
Thou epic, thou color, thou music sublime,
I kneel at the feet of the Artist Divine.
I awake in the stillness of night,
Reaching for a presence I feel but cannot hold.
My hand touches air,
My heart touches love.
My arms close around nothing,
My soul opens to new joy.
Thus, when hand meet hand
And heart meet heart,
When arms clasp another,
Such love is twice, thrice fulfilled.