The Journey to the Beginning

By: deborahsc

Nov 18 2007

Category: Haibun

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Heliconia: Las Marias, Puerto Rico

native flower
braids of desire, come enter
into the deep


flor indígena
trenzas de deseo, ven
al profundo 


bláth dhúchasach
trilséan na ndúil. tar amach
sa domhan thíos 


            Invitation. Seduction. Command.  The knotted chord of the Angelus bell in the chapel. The pull of the shiny image onto the blank page. The whisper of the ancestors.

The challenge of the Spirit in the face of wind. Vocation. At the beginning of the semester I see a path—point to point, sense forward direction. Soon after, the road turns spiral and spinning. Vocation. Dare. I follow my Dingle down the hedgehog hole of poetry into the underworld (an domhan thíos). I am more curious than committed.



within sight, a world

perfect, green. not ready

to be split open

            Patience has never been my strong suit, especially in the novitiate. I was always just holding on to the edges back then, the margins  Boricua lizard keeps its vigil for the August season of quenepas, those bitter-sweet Ponce limes pink flesh and its seed  I decide in those moments to use my time—historian/scribe—hopeful as the swan-children of Lir waiting 300 years for the return of the Promise that remains yet a promise.


hungry mouths, each tongue

grows longer, their stories

of thirst

            The work of the poet is hard as much for its consequences as for its craft. Scratch a true poet and you will find a “not me, Lord, send my brother Aaron” prophet. Poets carry the history of  peoples in their satchels, stuffed in notebooks, in the piles of books stacked and falling about them and under the words that are torn from their hearts in the course of their uneasy visions. Along the way I have found the company of wordsmiths who have devised ways to teach us myth by myth, Adonis and Venus, Diamaid and Grainne, story by story, Dermot and Grace, that we must look at Auschwitz, Hiroshima, and Iraq. We must “study war” to avoid it. And we learn that we have not learned, but for the finely-honed institutional oppressions that are so deeply imbedded within in us and our daily living that we have accommodated them.



a single oak

gnarled, stripped, still standing

is recognized







a ribbon of road

brushstrokes, footsteps paint

our story

            What would a road trip be without music to move us sojourners along. The asphalt road. the rice paper canvas, the goat skin stretched over the frame circle. The cipín, the beater, an available stick or knuckle. The bamboo fude with the teardrop tip soaked in pine soot. We find what is available to us. Simple things. We ask them to accompany us. The fluid movements of the brush, held straight and decisive like a baton, the motion of the beater (lever and fulcrum) frenzied dancing across the skin. We do not/can not retrace our steps, but we practice on the next sheet, in the retellings. The repetition of symbols for eternity and valor, the following of the beat ríl agus port, reel and jig—we seek ways into the interior for poems that have stood for 1200 years. Finding as Fionn MacCumhail tells his band, “the music of what happens.”


haze like a curtain

lifts. a gift

of orange



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