Saturday, July 30, 2016

"Walking Instructions" by Luke Fischer

I'm pleased to share here a poem about walking written by my friend, Luke Fischer, who is a philosopher and poet living in Sydney, Australia.  I encourage you to check out Luke's books of poetry, philosophy, and stories for children:

Walking Instructions    

Samothraki, Greece
for David Macauley

Break these instructions or read them then toss them
in the fire Don’t worry about arriving where you’ve
planned or better set off without a destination Let a pair
of birds braiding air over the stream show you the way
if you can follow them Let yourself get side-tracked Observe
that a sheep’s tail is almost as long as a Labrador’s and
admire the Greeks for letting nature be Stop to ask
a nameless tree how it feels about the place A stream
well-observed can exceed the promised bounty of the
waterfall Notice how it shoulders between rocks like muscle
tissue in the making Sit down close your eyes and attend to
the timpani of water on stone and water on water Wonder
about the rain-like doodles on an unflowing surface beside
a shoal Go nearer to see the mass gathering of water striders
like tractors on delicate aquatic legs revving forward
then drifting back obliviously constructing a fluent geometry
of concentric circles Yes you wish you knew more
geology could make distinctions beyond granite and
porphyry but you don’t so look and speculate a little
work with what you don’t know if it helps convert to Zen or
imagine how Orpheus perceived this waterscape Perhaps
in his youth the stream cooled his desire like the tranquil
presence of Eurydice and the white stones appeared
as her congealed tears To me they suggest marbles left
by the gods after they’d finished playing or a kind of divine
confetti though I can’t explain why Have you ever looked
closely at a single ant? its abdomen an obsidian arrow-point
its dark-amber thorax and pin head the way it uses its
antennae to navigate a bark terrain like a blind man
with two canes or how does your ant look and what is it
doing? I always conceived lizards as stony sun-worshippers
but this one matches the fallen sycamore leaves and is
strikingly streamlined and quick When seeking a hiding place
to pee sense the atmosphere as you pass through a grove
stones that seem more perfectly arranged than a Japanese
garden and the watery quality of the slim trunks and
branches You can almost make out the harmonics
of a lyre or the grace in a statue of Artemis That night
marvel at how you stumble across this pertinent passage
from Seneca quoted in a book on the elements If ever
you have come upon a grove that is full of ancient trees which have grown
to an unusual height, shutting out a view of the sky by a veil
of bleached and intertwining branches, then the loftiness of the forest,
the seclusion of the spot, and your marvel at the thick unbroken shade
in the midst of the open spaces, will prove to you the presence of deity.
Return the next day to the same spot the ‘new’ is not
always the better Feel the soft carpet of tufts and trilobed
leaves in the grove see how the lichen-covered
stones and bark complement one another and inquire
further into the watery quality you sensed Notice the ripples
in the grey bark and the way each tree seems to follow the
will of the river Each a stream of wood co-shaping
an airscape From its source in the roots the slender trunk
meanders upwards and unwinds in tributary-branches
Sit for a while without looking and shiver as a black snake
slithers into a crevice As the sun hides behind Mount
Fengari arrive at the Foniás waterfall strip off all your
clothes and dive into the liquid cool No Actaeon will
appear now and spy on you and even if he does who cares
Drink as you swim rehydrate but sip rather than gulp 
so as to avoid ingesting insects

© Luke Fischer

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