As Much of the Universe

This morning, I’m thinking about Fernando Pessoa (or Alberto Caeiro?)’s The Keeper of Sheep, VII:

From my village I see as much of the universe as can be seen
from the earth,
And so my village is as large as any town,
For I am the size of what I see
And not the size of my height…

In the cities life is smaller
Than here in my house on top of this hill.
The big buildings of cities lock up the view,
They hide the horizon, pulling our gaze far away from the
open sky.
They make us small, for they take away all the vastness our
eyes can see,

And they make us poor, for our only wealth is seeing.

I went up the monte twice yesterday, once in the morning with Alqo to stretch our legs, and again in the afternoon before sunset with both Patricia and Alqo. Toward the top, there is a fork in the path. We’ve always turned right, which leads us a little bit further, past a grove of oak, and ultimately to the winding road we live on, further down the monte.

Instead, we turned left. With my new eyeglasses, I can see much clearer (my prescription doubled since the last time I changed them, which was far too long ago). And the view that awaited us when we reached the actual top was spectacular.

We could see the other forest path that we take often, that leads past an isolated goat farm with two very protective dogs, past the heavily-shaded area where Alqo ran off to chase a deer a few days ago after sunset and left us a little distraught and searching for him in the dark for what felt like an eternity, and towards another village, A Aira Vella (pop. 6) that we walked to, meeting only an older woman and three dogs. We could see the rain in the distance and a section the autovía. Some of the trees are turning a faint yellow and brown, adding to the autumnal feeling.

I remembered Pessoa and specifically The Keeper of Sheep, how I was able to share him with a fellow Peace Corps friend, how his translated poetry found me at the time I needed him, how I used read him on the veranda in my small village in Sierra Leone, and our short life in an apartment in downtown Cologne; the constricted vision, and how my walks with Alqo were confined to a city block.

All of it was written in some sense, necessary to have this moment of pure gratitude up there of where we are now, what we do, and who we aspire to be.

I’ll hold on to this feeling for the day.

Fanā

Laying down and ready
Strummed guitar strings slow,
Not even heard anymore.
The vision closes in and packs up
Runes, hieroglyphs, totems, masks,
Everything ancient collides into an single atom.

Of course, all this is the same,
Gifted from One Source.
Idols of the mind meet on an illusory Earth
And produce distance, distraction.
So much searching for something already here,
Closer to me than my jugular vein.
But who will listen?

Falling now,
Through the cushions, the floor
Underground and now,
Into deep, dark cosmos.
No mind, no body, no bother.
Melted into and meshed with something
Vast and Majestic.

Light on top of Light,
It is so crystal clear now.
A multiverse, rays of warmth
Reflected inward and outward
Like an empty house of mirrors.

No panic, only consuming Peace.
Reverberations of a single frequency hit
Where my head once was.
A silent whisper written onto my heart,
They need to remember.

Coming out
Bathed in the moonlight,
Awakened, fearless and ready.

Walt Whitman’s Mystical Experience in Song of Myself

I read this poem in Leaves of Grass ten years ago and have never stopped thinking about this one part:

Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth,
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love,
And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
And mossy scabs of the worm fence, heap’d stones, elder, mullein and poke-weed.

Dame Una Palabra

En la tierra
de los mil poetas
escogí perderme,
acabe encontrándote.

La tinta auguró nuestra historia
las dunas de tornaron olas,
cordilleras en tu espalda
e infinitud de estrellas.

Sigo a tu lado,
me enseñaste a ver el mismo cielo
aún estando preso,
perdido en mitad de la ciudad
y el horizonte tornado de deseo.

En la tierra de los míl poetas
nos descubrimos infinitos,
libres de sed,
huérfanos de nubes,
ahijados del oasis
y del futuro.

Esta ciudad, es a veces,
un desierto más profundo
que el corazón,
suerte que llevo las alforjas
y en el puño, la ilusión
de que ya nada es finito.

Pablo Urizal, Madrid