Lie down with your belly to the ground,
like an old dog in the sun. Smell
the greenness of the cloverleaf, feel the damp
earth through your clothes, let an ant
wander the uncharted territory
of your skin. Lie down
with your belly to the ground. Melt into
the earth’s contours like a harmless snake.
All else is mere bravado.
Let your mind resolve itself
in a tangle of grass.
Lie down with your belly
to the ground, flat out, on ground level.
Prostrate yourself before the soil
you will someday enter.
Stop judging, fearing, trying.
This is not dying, but the way to live
in a world of change and gravity.
Let go. Let your burdens drop.
Let your grief-charge bleed off
into the ground.
Lie down with your belly to the ground
and then rise up
with the earth still in you.
from Trust the Wild Heart (2006, 87 pages)
Ruth L. Schwartz
I’ve always loved the way pelicans dive,
as if each silver fish they see
were the goddamned most important
thing they’ve ever wanted on this earth —
and just tonight I learned sometimes
they go blind doing it,
that straight-down dive like someone jumping
from a rooftop, only happier,
plummeting like Icarus, but more triumphant —
there is the undulating fish,
the gleaming sea,
there is the chance to taste again
the kind of joy which can be eaten whole,
and this is how they know to reach it,
head-first, high-speed, risking everything,
and some of the time they come back up
as if it were nothing, they bob on the water,
silver fish like stogies angled
rakishly in their wide beaks,
— then the enormous
stretching of the throat,
then the slow unfolding
of the great wings,
as if it were nothing, sometimes they do this
a hundred times or more a day,
as long as they can see, they rise
back into the sky
to begin again —
and when they can’t?
We know, of course, what happens,
they starve to death, not a metaphor, not a poem in it;
this goes on every day of our lives,
and the man whose melting wings
spatter like a hundred dripping candles
and the suicide who glimpses, in the final
seconds of her fall,
all the other lives she might have lived.
The ending doesn’t have to be happy.
The hunger itself is the thing.
Ruth L. Schwartz, from Edgewater, 2002 HarperCollins copyright © 2002 Ruth L. Schwartz.