Don’t say, don’t say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts.
I have seen
the fountain springing out of the rock wall
and you drinking there. And I too
before your eyes
found footholds and climbed
to drink the cool water.
Don’t say, don’t say there is no water.
That fountain is there among its scalloped
green and gray stones,
it is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,
up and out through the rock.
~Denise Levertov from “The Fountain”
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work and that
when we no longer know which way to go
we have begun our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
The world, the truth, is more abounding,
more delightful, more demanding than we thought.
What appeared for a time perhaps to be mere dutifulness …
suddenly breaks open in sweetness —
and we are not where we thought we were,
nowhere that we could have expected to be.
~Wendell Berry from “Poetry and Marriage: The Use of Old Forms,” in Standing By Words
Who among us knows with certainty each morning
what we are meant to do that day
or where we will be asked to go?
Or do we make our best guess by
putting one foot ahead of the other as we were taught
until the day is done and it is time to rest?
For me, over four decades,
I woke baffled each day
that I was allowed
to eavesdrop on heartbeats,
touch tender bellies,
sew up broken skin,
set fractured bones,
listen to and through tears.
I woke humbled with commitment and duty
to keep going even when too tired,
my heart sometimes too dry,
though to offer care even when rejected
and keep striving even if impeded.
Doing that work, I learned that
obstacles will slow but cannot stop
the cascade of love and hope
spilling over and through the rocks of life.
My days still overflow with the uncertainty
of what comes next:
finding my real work in this time of life
is to wade in deep, tumbling over the barriers
and still keep singing.
Simply keep singing.
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One thought on “Springing Out of the Rock”
What a gorgeous poem you wrote, Emily! Thank you. And you included my favorite of Wendell Berry’s.