Walking Like an Elephant
This is not as simple as it seems.
Following along at its own pace.
As is, in the toe of the simple and at its ease.
Past the wrens, the little ones in the low bushes,
the lavender and the purple heather.
at the comfort of the sky, on a cloudless day,
big and little at once, for dreaming under it, for living wide.
It’s all the same pace, walking,
moving, imagining new life. Out on the walk, I see
the palm fronds all over the ground from the night before,
thin and woody and scraggly, essential to the desert.
I walk on past the mesquite and the yucca in bloom,
the green pods and the white flowers, lily like,
full of grace and timber, here in the clear of exactly
where here is. In the middle of the land of white sand
and shrub life, in the middle of letting go and moving
forward, there’s a certain comfort in it, knowing it
by heart, what holds us up, step by step,
out as far as we can go, all the way back
A Good Place for a Small Garden
Who doesn’t want more out back?
Purple flowers on the wall and that’s not all,
flurries of morning glories too, blue
coming out of nowhere, surprises
in a flat world
yeah, big ideas about eternity
in the garden, the risings up, the star shaped
flowers, wind driven seeds,
new sprouts after a winter of deep snow,
tiny birds in the light of the moon,
wrens, little ones and yes, all of it
is palpable, the world, earth, plat maps
100s of them the result of human finesses
yes and it changes us, the roses,
the sense anything is possible
even in a cracked up world,
ambition in the kitchen, plotting the planting beds,
numbers on paper, the measures
of the land out back,
neat rows of tall
sunflowers, yellow, gigantic,
petals big as hands, edible seeds
in a glass jug in the sun,
the sweet peas on the garden poles,
clear white flowers the color of pearls,
green tendrils to climb up with
nectar in the flowers to fire the soul
The light changes now, wild yellows, dark blue
edging in everywhere. I know this is about how I see
the horizon like stretches of a narrative
over time. Another day ends and in the middle
of it all, you and me. We measure ourselves in days
and moments. Lists of what works as planned. Solace in the hand.
Tea hot enough to warm the body. The words come this way.
Staying as we go forward. Sitting between moving. Placing us.
Me. Home. I wait for the moon rise, the thin patch
of wild lightand then the moon itself. I close my eyes
and breathe out for balance, for health. All of this
is related. It has to be in any kind of coherent life or at least
one piecemealed as such. All the pulling together to stay whole
but here in this moment, it flows out, eases up, comes together
of its own. Time makes it so. Flies us light again the way we know
how down deep, flying light is. How it carries us along.
For more than twenty years now, I have been a practicing Tibetan Buddhist. I say compassion prayers every day and read widely in Buddhism. I like Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein and many other writers. I also do a walking meditation each day and practice a little mindfulness whenever possible.
Charlene Langfur is an organic gardener, a southern Californian, a Syracuse University Graduate Writing Fellow. Her writing has appeared in many magazines and journals, most currently a series of poems in Poetry East, Weber—The Contemporary West, Sugar Mule, poems in Earth's Daughters, The MacGuffin, The Cape Rock, the new anthology Forgotten Women, and essays in Still Point Arts Quarterly, and Evening Street Review.