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QUINTESSENCE

Falling up

Night heron
WILDERNESS

When I lay down, for the night, on the desert,
on my back, and dozed, and my eyes opened,
my gaze rushed up, as if falling up
into the sky,
and I saw the open eye of night, all
guileless, all iris of a starshine grey,
scattered with clusters of brilliant pupils.
I gazed, and dozed, and as my eyelids lifted I would
plummet up out of the atmosphere,
plunging and gasping as if I'd missed
a stair. I would sleep, and come to, and sleep,
and every time that I opened my eyes
I fell up deep into the universe.
It looked crowded, hollow, intricate, elastic,
I did not feel I could really see it
because I did not know what it was
that I was seeing. When my lids parted,
there was the real - absolute,
crisp, impersonal, intimate,
benign without sweetness, I was roaring out, my
speed suddenly increasing in its speed, I was
entering another dimension, and yet
one in which I belong, as if
not only the earth while I am here, but space,
and death, and existence without me, are my home.

- Sharon Olds

This poem of Sharon Olds' never loses its power to transport me into the boundless mystery of the universe. Olds declares, "there was the real - absolute, crisp, impersonal, intimate, benign without sweetness." Describing so aptly the familiar strangeness; the presence of an encompassing unbounded living pulse. There is a greater-than-known truth singing from afar, a song deep in the quiet. It is in nature I encounter moments of intuitive awareness of how much more there is, as Olds herself experiences in "Wilderness." Unaware of the night heron, aware of me. Silent on the lake dock under a tent of a million distant white stars. By the bonfire as sparks pop and pirouette and splinter into the sky into the illumination of the Milky Way. I experience a shift of dimensions diving beneath the surface of the cold clear lake, beckoned by a universe below what I take for granted every day. Truly, we live in one dimension among many. One small part of an integrated endless layering of existences, present and past, known and distant.

Next time you step out into the deep night, look long into the sparkling sky. Do you feel how you belong?

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