The Hollows

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In the hollows

Of the mountain range,

Of your sloping back,

Where we want to rest

And the hints are gentle,

Of the magnitude

In our midst, everywhere,

Finally, the delight

In recognizing

The negative spaces

That cast life’s glories

Its turbulent stories

Into the glow of relief,

So that we are,

Again, ready,

Knowing now, again,

Why we are here,

This pause our moment

Seized, to bring back

All the parts of ourselves

We have left behind,

The trails of our

Sacred flight,

To breathe in, out,

Grab hold of the heart

Our compass,

And set out again,

And again,

Until the shadows

No longer scare us,

And the horizon

Is our doorway home.

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As You Are

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To see before

Before seeing again,

A look back

Through the storied

Remains, sifting through

Everything that has brought

Us here, to this moment,

Holding ourselves captive

With the walls of everything

We have always believed.

And what if we choose

To believe nothing but this:

The fact of our breath

Climbing and descending

The temple, our body,

Feeding the places that hurt,

Without needing to know

Why we are hurting so,

Loving all of us, anyway.

The work of our hands,

As they reach for the heart,

To hear the sound

Of it beating, to know

That this is also the sound

Of the world’s oceans

Ebbing and flowing,

And that nothing is more

Powerful than her roars,

Her swells, her motions.

To stand under the moon

And on a bed of earth,

And find that they meet,

From above, from below,

Right where you are,

And find their source

In the very center of you,

Not as you’ve been,

Not as you will be,

But as you are now.

I am the River

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There is no river

I’ve never seen

As the water moving,

Sometimes still

And sometimes restless,

Through the vessel

Of my own body,

Crashing against

The turbulent,

Mountainous mass

Of my heart

That is never still,

Even as it plants

In the center of my being,

Roots ancient and wise,

Ready to bear

The tides of cries

Of thousands of years

As they come, now,

To sublimate

In this very moment,

But I am ready;

This is what I’ve been

Preparing for.

I am the river;

I am the rock.

I am the emotions

Of all these centuries;

I am the one

Witnessing them,

Loving, letting go.

The river becomes

The ocean that meets

The fabled horizon.

We see in ourselves

Not what we were,

Not what we will be,

But our perfect selves,

Already here,

And we could never be

Anything, anywhere else.

Servant of Life

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I reached the park

Next to the temple,

Accompanied by each

Of my terrible fears.

The sun was not oblivious,

Touched me with modest strength

Without ever intruding.

I sat on a moss-filled bench,

Took off my shoes and socks,

Rested my feet on the dried,

Browned leaves of winter’s end.

Then I crossed my legs,

Straightened my back to meditate,

And instantly, I started to cry.

I heaved, I wailed,

My sadness painted

Every hill and pathway

At the foot of the temple.

When my sobs weakened,

Weary, I lifted my head

From its home in my thin,

Cold hands, my heart heavy,

Until, and I don’t know how,

The clattering in my mind stilled,

As though I had made

The whole thing up,

All the restless years of my life,

And in front of me,

Bathed in complete silence,

The things before me appeared

As if for the first time,

And the tree was a tree,

The rolling hills, hills,

A gentle, chilled breeze

Was not the leaves chattering,

Heads bent together in glee,

Was just wind in the tree,

And the quiet revealed to me

In stark relief the theatre of noise

I had mistaken for

The heart of my existence.

I sat in wonder.

I laughed in my heart.

I am here for no other reason,

I realized, than just to be,

In service of what

Has always been here,

And cannot disappear,

And I have to move,

Finally, as I long to,

In the flow of the one

Constant, the one truth

Of this motion unceasing,

This perpetual gift

Of our lives in this life,

From the place that doesn’t die.

 

– Tammy Takahashi

 

When You Are Tired

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When it is difficult

To find the right view,

The one you have been seeking

And know makes everything sing,

And you cast your gaze wide,

And are filled with detritus:

Yesterday’s thoughts and creations

Turned grey, tired, the living legacy

Of mistakes ongoing,

When this is the challenge of today,

Start by narrowing the view.

Find the flower growing, miraculously,

Out of a pile of storied rubble,

The vines climbing the electric fence.

See the art succeeding to lift

A sad neighbourhood up,

The way the sun beams for everyone.

Take yourself off the road

In the direction of the horizon,

And look down, and your shoes

Are already off by now,

So that your feet are sinking

Into the grasses, fields, forests,

And the prickling sensation

Is your reminder of the struggle

That brought you here,

And there is always the promise

Of moss on stone.

Reach the mountain. Climb it.

Or maybe you have a potted plant

On your windowsill that wants you

To talk to it. Do better. Sing.

Tell it your deepest wounds

As you caress it to health.

When you have been filled

With everything that nurtures,

Widen your gaze again,

And bring your vibrant beauty

To our hopeful, waiting world.

– Tammy Takahashi

Why Do We Dream of Home?

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Why do we dream of home?

Why do we long to return,

Somewhere both near and far,

Somewhere on the path ahead,

Leading us from behind,

Where the images have

Faded to wisps, to dark?

Why do we dream of home

Like we are in need of saving,

Like there is a nest, a shelter,

Loving arms to harbor us

When we’ve become strangers

To the deepest parts of self?

Where can home possibly be,

After we have searched

The corners of the world

Looking for a place to rest,

Having combed every part

Of the recesses of mind,

To discover what is true,

And what can be good?

When we will know, finally,

That home is the deep breath

Of all the oceans heaving,

A breathing in and breathing out

That allays the fear

Of having lost ourselves,

Because there is no way,

Any longer, to deny

The four walls, floor and roof

Of the home we have lived in

From the moment of our birth,

And that will carry us,

And let us live and pray,

Lose and find, come and go

As many times as we need to,

And will welcome us back

To ourselves without hesitation:

This body, our aspirations,

The joy of our embodied now.

– Tammy Takahashi

 

On a Morning Almost Spring

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It is all for you,

That sweet smell

The rain-soaked cedar

Living out its last moments

Close to home,

The breathing earth-fire

Of the sacred mountain,

The new leaves budding,

The insects always

Finding their way,

Knowing where to rest,

And how to carry out

The meaning of their lives.

For you, that I drop

To my knees, to be close,

Too, to all that splendor

We forget to call home.

I bring hands to heart,

And the cave within

Becomes the whole horizon,

The sun, hidden before rain,

Still finds its way

Into the space between

Blood and bone,

Heart and mind,

And I don’t have to wait

Anymore, no, I find

That I am already here.

  • Tammy Takahashi