Evergreen Lotus Mandala

30th annual Rainbow Family Gathering
July 1-7, 2001, Boise Forest, Idaho

 

1.

"This talk is like stamping new coins. They pile up,
while the real work is done outside
by someone digging in the ground."

—Rumi


The broad flat meadow laps against
pine-crested ridges
like a lake of wild grasses,
scattered yellow and purple flowers
and dry sandy dirt

Distant figures make their way across
as if walking on water

(Nothing on Earth could be more beautiful
except these slit latrines
gradually filled with human manure,
tree-ash and handfuls of soil,
then dug all over again
a spade's length away)

Water so transparent it shimmers in the sun
like liquid light
runs over beds of precious stones
where the young salmon feed,
spanned by bridges of lashed pine poles

Children and greyhairs, longhairs, no-hairs
meander among the pine-needled clan

(Nothing on Earth could be more peaceful
except those dusty feet
crossing the bridges in the dry heat all day
without stepping down
into the clear, cool, shallow paths
of the endangered salmon)

The waxing moon glides down across
this high mountain valley
into the trees, translucent and luminous
as a red-hot stone
entering the sweat lodge

Nomads wander the dusty moonlit trails
from kitchen-fire to kitchen-fire, adrift
on her tide

(Nothing on Earth could be more lovely
except these bags of garbage
washed and sorted for recycling
because in nature nothing ever, ever
goes to waste)


2.

"A circle of lovely, quiet people
becomes the ring on my finger."

—Rumi


Silence walks the trails this morning
while last night's late
carousers sleep it off

Till almost dawn they fired their
arching streamers and blossom-bursts
of voices and drums across the dark

Now silence drifts down the mountainsides
like mist, filtering
with the daylight
through a forest of young pines
to fill the waking valley (overrunning cup
of silence—)

Early risers meeting on the path
say nothing, though their eyes
exchange light
and every so often two hearts
greet each other
with a long, silent hug (mute
conversation of heartbeats--)

Silence radiates from an island of quiet
in the center of the meadow
as a slow procession converges
from every direction at once
and for a long
unbroken moment, hands
grasping hands along the shore
of a vast lake of silence,
peace has come

(Nothing on Earth could be more sacred
except the hot work of aerating,
mulching and re-seeding
the abandoned kitchens and trails,
scattering oven-stones, burning
bridges)


3.

"Suppose you scrub your ethical skin until it shines,
but inside there is no music,
then what?"

—Kabir


Somewhere in this circle of thousands
stands a 30-year-old
who has never seen fireworks
on the Fourth of July

The young ones are with us
holding the silence

Longhaired teenage boys picking up
the weapons of peace,
shovel, mattock, saw, suddenly
boys no more—
shaven and ponytailed Hare Krishna monks
chasing a frisbee
after the pots are scrubbed—
young women with slender wrists
and firm palms
confidently addressing the spirit of the drum,
singing to the fire—
a parade of wild kids
more innocent than we were,
wiser than we'll ever be,
gaining on us year by year, inch
by inch—

The young ones are with us
sounding the Om

(And nothing on Earth could be more precious
except when they arrive
smiling, stunned, shy,
holding one more howling infant
because in a family not one child ever
goes to waste)

Pick up any pine cone,
turn it upside down
and gaze into the thousand-petaled
lotus mandala
of generations of evergreen

Grandmother, father, daughter!
Grandfather, mother, son!
I see it now: the shortest distance
between any three points
is a circle