Using the Enneagram with Judith Searle

POEMS BY JUDITH SEARLE FROM: "IN THE TEETH OF TIME"



 

MUCH DEPENDS

 

Much depends

upon perspective:

there are those that hear

the sounds of music

and those that hear

the silences.

 

 

IN THE TEETH OF TIME

 

                           Music heard so deeply

         That it is not heard at all, but you are the music

         While the music lasts.

                           --T.S. Eliot, "The Dry Salvages"

 

The violinist is dying, the pianist is dying, all of us

in this high-ceilinged room on our chairs are dying.

The roses in the sunlight streaming through the windows

are dying, though their scent is strong.

 

Outside a dog howls as the violin pours forth

its intricate filigree, its amazing leaps and moans.

Poor howling dog, howling for all of us sitting here

on this Sunday afternoon in the teeth of time.

 

We are forever brothers and sisters,

held together in this womb, birthed

through the throes of the music into the sunlight.

We howl with pain and joy.

 

This musk of mortality mixes with the fragrance of the roses.

The moans and sobs of the violin are indistinguishable

from the blood leaping in our veins on this

Sunday afternoon in the kingdom of forever.

 

The cutting edge of time is essential to the ecstasy.

The performers are our high priests, flinging themselves

into the silence to bring back treasures for the tribe,

which we devour in this ritual communion.

 

We ride their backs as if on dolphins,

soaring into the sunlight scattering diamonds,

plunging through the depths, lungs bursting,

our exuberance edged with panic.

 

In this moment of alchemy, discipline is inseparable from freedom,

fierceness from tenderness, focus from abandonment.

The music is a lover with a hundred hands, and we are reeling

with the sudden touch of sound after a moment of silence.

 

Worth it to be mortal on a day like this,

with the sunlight, the roses,

the music rising to heaven, swooping back

to earth, our vehicle to eternity.

 

 

SILENCES

 

This thing I want to say,

I can find no words to say it,

to cleanly pin it down.

But let me start with the silences.

It has something to do with silences:

the silences in music without which

no music exists,

the silence which contains the music

and is contained by it,

yin to the notes' yang.

 

Or those moments of silence between people,

enemies of the word-oiled social machine,

moments bursting with what

can't be spoken, won't be spoken.

(If it could, would the universe fly apart?)

Yes, there may be a clue in the silences.

 

Or--to say (or not say) it another way--

in the incidents and accidents

of which we forge our identities:

this peculiar blue of eye,

that distinctive nose,

the genetic accident of

thus-and-such male or female body.

 

Or the happenstance of incidents

treasured up in memory

and called our past,

of which we make poems and psychoanalysis.

This same collection

of neural traces in the brain

leads us to say we know another person,

hoarding in common

different memories of the same incidents,

these incidents as much accidents

as the blue eyes and the distinctive nose.

 

Memory being a great editor,

it edits out the silences,

keeping only the words, rearranged neatly

for the sake of harmony with other memories.

Thus the past becomes comfortable, orderly,

a refuge from this dangerous, subversive moment.

 

If you and I knew each other before,

in other incarnations,

as some sensitives say we did,

is it any wonder we cannot remember,

having blinkered our eyes with these images

of what we call reality:

my having such-and-such breasts

and the rest of the female apparatus,

you with your pride of male equipment,

and yes, this passion and poetry

and sense of shared events.

 

What do I mean when I say

I know you?

When I say to someone

He knows me?

Do I, seeing a few puffs of smoke

rising from a crevice,

know the fire raging

in an underground cavern?

Can you drink the water

of the deep springs

that bend your dowsing stick

as you walk on granite?

 

Physicists in their quantum universes

talk of "worm holes" linking

one stratum of existence with another:

simultaneous multiple versions of you and me

scurrying back and forth

like mice in tunnels of Swiss cheese,

nibbling at past and future,

memories and fantasies.

How often do we share a universe?

An instant here and there--

not in the obvious places one would think,

like love, but strangely, fleetingly

in those moments when we look for sharing least:

moments seen slantwise out of the corner of the eye,

dissolving when looked at too directly.

The separations perhaps, the silences.

 

No, I have not managed to say

this thing I want to say.

But the truth is there somewhere

in the silences.

 

 

DREAMING YOU

                                                      for Basil

 

It is May again, my darling, nearing

the anniversary of the day you left your body.

 

The other night in a dream you said to me,

"I've lost my little radio." I know the one --

still in the top drawer of our bedside table,

but lost to you along with your body

and my body. The living and the dead

are on different frequencies, it seems.

I trust you hear me when I speak to you now,

despite the silence that follows my words.

There is a voice I hear sometimes

when I am missing you most intensely.

It says, "Look around you."

 

During the last years, when I would go to New York

alone, you would ask me to visit

certain art exhibitions for you. It seemed

that you could suck up the experience

directly from my consciousness

by the sheer force of your longing.

Why did I not see before your departure

that the deepest bond between us

was our shared passion for beauty?   

 

I still seek on my walks each day

one new beautiful thing to share with your spirit:

forsythia spraying its yellow jets against a black rock,

a ruby-throated hummingbird hovering in the air,

the gaiety of wind-whipped daffodils,

sunlight on the leaves of a Japanese maple,

the spiral structure of a calla lily,

an avenue of flowering jacarandas,

the magenta velvet spikes of Mexican sage flowers, 

the fragile glory of a bearded iris.

 

Our white orchid plant"a gift for your ninetieth birthday"

now has thirty-one blossoms.