A Bramble of Blackberry

mountainblackberry…the notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies…

There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.
~Robert Haas from “Meditation at Lagunitas”


A Deeper Well


The whole process is a lie, 
                          crowned by excess, 
      it break forcefully, 
                  one way or another, 
                              from its confinement-- 
      or find a deeper well...
                 I love you 
                              or I do not live 
      at all.
 At our age the imagination 
                  across the sorry facts 
                              lifts us 
      to make roses 
                  stand before thorns. 
      love is cruel 
                  and selfish 
                              and totally obtuse-- 
      At least, blinded by the light, 
                  young love is. 
                              But we are older, 
      I to love 
                  and you to be loved, 
                              we have, 
      no matter how, 
                  by our wills survived 
                              to keep 
      the jeweled prize 
                              at our fingertips. 
      We will it so 
                  and so it is 
                              past all accident. 

~William Carlos Williams, excerpts from “The Ivy Crown”
written at age 72, published in Journey to Love

How can we, at our age,
who have treated love as no accident,
looking into a well
of such depth and richness,
how can we tell the young
to will their love to survive –
to strive through thorns and briars,
though tears wept and flesh torn,
to come to cherish the prize
of rose and ivy crown.

It is everything that matters,
this crown of love
we have willed and worn together:

I love you or I do not live at all.
I to love and you to be loved.

Light Amid the Thorns


The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light amid the thorns.
~George Santayana

Our hilltop farm is named BriarCroft for good reason — our unintentional crop that flourishes each year is thorny.   We battle them with brush hogs, mowers and loppers, even burning them to the roots when necessary.  Yet the vines win this battle when we divert our attention elsewhere, even for just a few weeks.

Good thing there is light and love that glints through the thorns to encourage us when we are torn and hurting.  There will be a time when the power of the spirit will overwhelm and overcome the plethora of thorns.  There will come a day when the vines will yield fruit to feed us rather than wounds to bleed us.