"It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand,
and flies, just before it flies, the moment the rivers seem to still
and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm, as when
a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop,
very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to you
your car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin, like
the moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say,
it was like that, and after that, it was still like that, only
all the time."
- Marie Howe
The Good Thief
"I would like to house my spirit within my body, to nourish my virtue by mildness, and to travel in ether by becoming a void. But I cannot do it yet . . . And so, being unable to find peace within myself, I made use of the external surroundings to calm my spirit, and being unable to find delight within my heart, I borrowed a landscape to please it. Therefore, strange were my travels."
- T'u Lung
translated by Lin Yutang
The Travels of Mingliaotse
"The point is to understand everything, to realize everything, every impossibility, every stone wall; not to reconcile yourself to a single one of the impossibilities and stone walls if the thought of reconciliation sickens you; to arrive by way of the strictest logical syllogisms at the most repulsive conclusions on the eternal theme of how you are somehow to blame for the stone wall itself, even though once again it is abundantly clear that you are not to blame at all, and in consequence of all this to sink voluptuously into inertia, silently and impotently gnashing your teeth and reflecting that there isn't even anybody for you to be angry with, that an object for your anger can't even be found, and perhaps never will be, that this is all a fake, a conjuring trick, a piece of sharp practice, and there is nothing there but a morass, nobody knows what, nobody knows who, but in spite of all the mysteries and illusions, you ache with it all, and the more mysterious it is, the more you ache."
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Notes From The Underground
And I walk out of space
Into an overgrown garden of values,
And tear up seeming stability
And self-comprehension of causes.
And your infinity textbook
I read by myself, without people -
Leafless, savage medical book,
A problem book of gigantic radicals.
- Osip Mandelstam
"Not causing harm requires staying awake. Part of being awake is slowing down enough to notice what we say and do. The more we witness our emotional chain reactions and understand how they work, the easier it is to refrain. It becomes a way of life to stay awake, slow down, and notice."
- Pema Chödrön
Oh, the coming-out-of-nowhere moment
maybe half a moment
the rush of traffic stops.
The whir of I should be, I should be, I should be
slows to silence,
the white cotton curtains hanging still.
- Marie Howe
"We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss - we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:
I am living . . . "
- Marie Howe
faulkner and fieldnotes
"We continually look and hope for a new, special thing that is going to last or make us happy, fulfill our needs, answer all our questions. In actuality, what are we going to get? We will get more seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking. That's it. That's what life is."
- Jack Kornfield
Sometimes, When the Light
Sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood
and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old willows
or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks
and giant firs standing hip to hip,
you know again that behind that wall,
under the uncut hair of the willows
something secret is going on,
so marvelous and dangerous
that if you crawled through and saw,
you would die, or be happy forever.
- Lisel Mueller