Saraswathi remembers

white swans on river
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On her swan-ringed island

Of mist and falling petals

Of song, Saraswathi stands

Holding the wild scent

Of the lilies of eternity

In her silver hand,

Her fingers braiding bright

Visions

Of the dawn-lit past

Of myth-hatched eons

Long ago

Singed in the flames

Of endings

Half-forgotten though,

Their names,

In the days that followed after

Of snow

And white-

Drifting mountains.

On the lapping lake

Pairs of swans sail

And shake

The water from their wings

Their white and gray cygnets trail

Behind

All in a row

Bobbing on the ruffled waves.

Up on the granite cliff

In the rock-cut caves

In tall

Jars

Of stone

Are ranged the rolls of palm leaf scrolls

That caught the words

Of poems flown

The whispering of languages, long gone,

That went on the wandering wind,

On the wings of the waters

The sacred song, the notes of forest birds

The sounds, the syllables, the brush strokes,

The ring of the chisel-hafted hieroglyph,

The eloquence of flowers,

All kept with care

From the child’s fist-drawn scribbles

To the holy vedas of the rishis,

Seers from the stars

All kept, with none slipped into the abyss

None swept aside

There

Are bundled reams

Of cotton

Cloth in all the colors of creation:

The pale-footed hue

Of the mourning dove and her mate,

The nestled orange feathers

Of the northern flicker,

The banded tail

Of the sharp-shinned

Hawk,

Shades of the stout

Trunks of the ficus

And the teak

The red glint

Of the setting sun

Across the pebbled upland creek

The blue

Tint

Of the lotus

And the silver halo

Of the moon that beams

Through the indigo

Ocean of the swift-sailing night

All abide,

Their essence

To ride along the clouds

Of each new dawn

That sings

On the shining cosmic

Tide

Every delight

Of the dance

Of the caterpillar

On the rain-bent

Amarillis.

In the sacred annals

Of her book-filled jars

All knowledge, beauty

And infinity

All that is real

Nothing lost.

And now the swans fly

Higher

In the air

Of crystal frost

Among the green enchanted lands.

Within her magic

Translucent jars

The least stir

Is known

Of every creature

The leaping gray-pawed squirrels

The rooting snout

Of the bristle-faced, brave boar

Then too, remembered is the way

To skip

Among the stars

Or how to weave a shimmering cloak

Or fabricate

A flying ship

Or stoke

An immortal fire

Against the bane-crossed

Cold

Or travel fast

Like racing light

The path to take

To a wondrous land

Of fairies, elves, and heroes bold,

The remedy for every ill

How to ply

The sea

Of time to find the age of gold

Hidden on a cliff-faced shore

And how to make

One’s way to the deepening core

Of the moss-footed forest

In an elvan autumn,

All knowledge past

And yet to be.

Where now the kind

Laughter

Of Saraswathi?

Where the haunting notes

Of the veena?

And the light

Beat of the mringdam?

Where the bells that peel

At dawn?

Where the peace

In the mourning call

Of the swans and the flocking geese?

And where the soft bleating of the goats

Clambering up the rock-strewn hill?

All wait,

Wild and free,

Still

In the luminous blue jars

Of the drifting sky

All that shines true

One day

To be born anew

When the mist settles,

With the glad-crying swans of sunrise,

Over the mountains

Of a far country.

Written around 2010

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

No

animal big fur zoo
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No space,

Nor time,

No distance,

No night, nor day,

Nowhere,

Only the bobcat who strays

Across the high slanted

Bridge

Of rock, buried in snow,

Overlooking the deep fog lake

Below.

No dance

In the white air,

Lingering, a single chime

Of the Tibetan bell.

Why

Not take

Time

To stay

A while,

Footsteps of grace,

Glimmering eyes

That do not smile.

The moon calling from far across the haunted ridge,

Enchanted

Spell,

Cast in the window,

Through the wise

Year of fire-glow,

Of softly growing snow.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Evening

clouds during sunset
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Did you think to thank the evening?

I am the evening,

I have a soul, old and real,

A being – an essence from another age –

The flowering sage,

Spilling gold,

The half-moon watching,

The glimmering petals of time

That bloom

Between the echoes

Of lost places,

The ravens recounting

Tales untold

Of yesteryear,

The wheel

Running on and on,

While the tadpole curls up into sleep.

Did you thank the One

Who made the evening?

Or did you assume that all came together

Just entirely by chance?

A lovely accident

With no intent?

Nothing to see,

An idle dance?

Yet the evening is a petal

On the deepening rose of time

By the haunting cliff, steep,

Blown in the owl-awakened wind,

Gently, as the clouds

Fold up into stars

And the clear sky sings

Her song with crowds

Of hummingbirds that chime,

Recalling the embers

Of lilting Septembers

From far, far away,

Traces of rain remembered,

The wall of China

Winds around the rolling hills,

From lands long ago

In the swirling snow.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Written September 14, 2021

Red cliffs

grand canyon during golden hour
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Within the red cliffs

Walk the feet of Shiva

Through the eternities of endless eons

In the sacred smoke of the kiva

Snow-

Flakes falling

Within the perceptive

Eyes

Of the pygmy owl,

Reflecting skies

Where green dragons

Sail over the seas and all the caves

Long gone,

Waves

Washing up along the coast

Where still,

Knives

Gleam

Of thieves

Hiding in the dark,

Ninja lives,

Deceptive

Whiffs –

A spark

Of whispered words,

Clever,

Sly eyes smile.

There is the space

Where

The rainbows

Rest

A while

Before the startling storms that howl

Before the white-throated swift’s nest

High up in the rock

Gathers up the errant wings – lost almost.

All the hills become

Encircled in weaves

Of patterns within the mist

Of gray stone.

Within the rain ahead

Flocks

Of night

Rain, loud,

Bold,

That never cease,

Unerring

In their treks of flight,

Within the black armies of the castled kingdoms,

War drums

Of the cloud.

All is here now,

The bow

Of the lone,

Ghost

Ship cuts across the furrow,

And all falls

Suddenly quiet.

Torrents cease.

Winds let go.

All returns

To within the peace

Of cliffs deep red

As the autumn

Moon

In the forgotten dimensions

Of forever. Soon

Will the wild paws

Of the forest

Lions,

Tiptoe

Again, with grace

In the clear singing of the dawn

With the moon-

Enchanting meadows

Gone,

Now turned to gold,

Held in the entrancing feathers of the sun,

While rags of clouds stream

Onward to the dance.

September 10, 2021

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

The truth of Agni

flight dawn landscape sky
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The truth of Agni;

Fire consumes the illusion.

Trees walk on the black way

To the stars,

Trees who remember,

With the stones,

The earth’s enchanted bones,

The beginning and the ending,

The faces of the stones rise,

Red, gold,

Patterned in scars,

Walls of stone, tall,

Remembering

All

The dragonflies

And the elven folk

Of long ago;

No one believes

In them now

Though

They sang the truth of the stars.

In the ending – skies

Of gray

And white – oppression.

The smoke of time,

The embers

Of existence,

The age of blindness,

Of existential crime,

Treachery,

And war

Going now,

On the winds of time.

Shiva dancing both time and eternity,

In the stark

Winds that clear the smoke

Of being.

Soon, the bough

Of the oak

Will climb

Into the shimmering rain

Of Indra.

There, the face of Shiva

In the gold

Trees – twinkling among the leaves,

In a world so old –

That came before —

Yet shines again –

Now

In the ever-glimmering rain,

In the train

Of flowers,

In the arc

Of ancient powers.

***

Written August 7, 2021

© Sharon St Joan

Before the moon will write

black bird on brown grass
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Gone

Now, the cloud-wandering

Of the winter night,

Before the moon

Will write

Her comments

Across the pale

Rock

Invoking

Those untraveled moments

Yet to be, when soon

The silver, ambling feet

Of quail

Will flock

To greet

The sky-winged

Innocence of dawn.

Written around 1990

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Before and Again

photo of stream during daytime
Photo by Michael Block on Pexels.com

Do you hear

The standing stone that sings

Again, as it did in the shining days

Before time eclipsed the starstrands

Of eternity?

Closed now the crypts of concrete flowers

Papered

With the dead photos

Of gray kings

Winding up their own

Long, white-wintered

Year.

But out through the windows

Past the gates

Lie far, fair lands

Of bright bells

Which ring,

Triumphant always

As the sunlight and the shadows

Fall

Along the hawthorne tree

There the mist encircles the hills

Where the great-pawed panther dwells

And gaily plays

Gathering spells

Amid the wildrose bowers,

While red-winged blackbirds call

Forth anew those long-lost

Powers,

The angels of ancient hours

And goldfinches fly, exultant, like petals tossed

And blown

On waves of rain showers,

And, out there

The king of apple blossoms waits

For the day of spring

Holding moonbeams in his hands.

Written around 1988

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Hanuman, son the wind

shallow focus photography of monkey
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Hanuman,

Son of the wind,

Forest-eyed,

Sent to free

Entangled innocence from rusted snares,

From the bitter clawhold of Ravana,

To guide the gold-winged butterfly,

The shy, dawn-eyed doe,

The nagalinga tree

Of skylit flower,

The brave host of bears

On the oak-hallowed hill,

The bright-songed messengers, in flight,

The belled, meandering cow,

The redwoods of ancient girth,

The moon-

Finned

Minnows

Of silver gill,

Out from the chasms of desolation

Of a world gone awry

Back to the far, far

Reaches of the beginning – before ever time arose

Back to the shining lake of the mountain height

Hidden unseen in the green land of the star

Where mists of joy run

Like horses on the white river, wide,

Where the spring cactus unfolds gold and red.

A day to bring the innocent out, away

In the boat of the canted bow

That fled

Across the storm-bent sea

In the gale-churned hour.

Do you remember your flaming brand

And the fire that went up to swallow

The iron-souled city of Lanka?

Hanuman,

Savior of the innocent, hero-son

Of earth and star,

There  –  hear the call of the raven chime

From the canyon of ill-kept time.

Soon

Hanuman,

Son of the wind,

Breath of the earth.

© Sharon St Joan

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After a while

rock formation
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Tall,

To the sun

And the moon they rise,

Pillars

That hold up the land

Of the stars,

In the early morning

Of time.

Where the chime

Of butterflies

Rings in the mist

Of clouds,

Where the horses of the wind climb

Archaic hills, peace settles,

Free from the shrouds

Of thought bewildered.

When the grinding wheels

Of the rattling cars,

The careening cart,

Of the manic race of beings that never stops

Have stopped, unspinned,

And fallen down

From the lofty wall,

Their memory lies

Quiet,

Dimming,

In the cheerful company

Of ghosts,

In the sooted

Shambles of empires

Cast

Under the snapping heels

Of fate.

Then

The coyotes

And the ever-knowing raven

Will run again

In gladness,

Across the red rock sand.

The wild hills, free now,

As the lilies

Of eternity

Who bow

In the wandering wind

By the bright

And undiscovered

Sea.

After the horns

Of many winters

Have fallen silent,

The husk

Of time

Discarded,

The aspiring rose will lift

Her head again

Among the rocks, resilient,

In the ice-enchanted

Spring.

The wind will sing.

Stones

Will shine, blessed in the twinkling

Emptiness

Of night.

The crow

Hops

In black

Clouds that inhabit

A sky of joy;

Coyotes laugh last

In the dance of the dusk,

And the ancient,

Earlier folk

Walk

To take back

The sacred mountain

Stolen

So long ago,

Now that the age of the unholy

Will be ended and done,

Gone

On the smoke

Of the fleeing mist.

Under a delicate crown

Of forest

Leaves, mice play

Among their catch,

The silver

Trinkets of the dead,

And talk

A while of feats of yore.

Herons glimmer,

One-footed,

On the green, tree-

Shouldered river.

Such an ill wind

That blew

Into the bones

Of the soul

Of men,

And stayed, corroding

The core

Of history,

Such a grim, unseemly game,

Like thorns

Lodged in the heart,

But when the scales fall

Away,

One by one by one,

Then

In the end there are only

The plain, rain-lit,

And the rose that flowers anew,

The innocent petals

Of nevermore,

And the farmer’s boy

Who whistles

In the strawberry patch,

By the lop-sided shack,

Where the corn stalks grow,

His blue

Hat adrift

On his head,

In the town

With no name,

Where the raven rules, with the snow-

Winged geese.

The sun holds the empty bowl,

Blessed be his ashen fires.

Agni, the one

Who returns

All

Back to the beginning.

Set the burning

Lanterns

Out and wait

In peace,

From within the rock and mist

To hear a killdeer call,

To sail away

To a far and luminous shore,

Known so well from long before,

On the flaming ships of dawn.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Winged One

shallow focus photo of swan on body of water
Photo by Dave Toro on Pexels.com

Ever ancient one,

Winged One

You who sail

Beyond the chime

Of the wind,

Who enfold

The rings

Of magic beings,

You who fly

Between the lands of the stars,

Who know

The heart within all things,

Even the patterns on the tossed jars,

Of years swept out to sea

By the glinting rush of rivers,

You who climb

With the innocent

Feet

Of the flock

Of goats on the worn hill,

Who shine as the whispering of pale

Gold

Flowers,

As the fleet

Dance of the sacred waters,

Among the holy stones at daybreak,

Pure being,

Winged soul of time

And eternity,

You are ever the light within

The gathered shawl

Of the deepening sky,

Ever the wind set loose on the lapping

Indigo

Lake,

Ever the echo

Of the silver swans whose call

Sings

Still

Within the lily

Of spring

Through the open

Window

In the rock.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

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