Archives for category: spirituality

A Leper’s Wisdom

There is so much I do not know,
for I did not live a life full of beauty.

Mine was something else,
but in spite of that, or perhaps
because of it, I know something
about faith, instead.

About the gift of simply
being here. About what can be
endured, survived.

About why the sun bothers
to rise over my humble terrace,
just as it ascends the gates of some
grand distant castle.

Quit trying to make perfect
an imperfect world—
propping up one thing after another
in desperation, when everything
is perpetually on its way
to the ground.

Dear one, great skeptic
of the inevitable, you are
duped by this futile notion
again and again.

Stop wasting time.

Claire Juno, © 2017

Desolation

I am alone in this garden.
Alone with this pain.

I have told you before
how everyone has left me,
all have turned their backs,
all have chosen blindness
for the immunity it affords.
They are cut off from
their compassion.

There is no one to hide me away
from those who wish me harm,
who hate me without cause,
other than their sickness.

And I come to you with nothing left,
with empty hands, with a heart
weighed down by isolation and dread
and by the darkness itself, which seems
deep enough to snuff out my cries.
I know what is coming.

What I have already borne
is too heartbreaking. Though I am
strong and sturdy, the betrayal has
weakened me, has slowed my feet,
garbled my words.

I am afraid.

I have no one I can trust.
My sweat is tinged the color
of these roses in front of me
as I sit in this garden,
feeling unwell and uncertain
and small; powerless to deter
what must overtake me
to fulfill something greater
than myself.

The pain makes my head feel
as if it would burst, and the tears
that stream down offer no respite.
There is no one coming to aid me,
is there. You can hear me but
you do not help me, as much
as it hurts you to see me in this state.

We both agreed to this once upon a time.
Only we underestimated something.
We had no idea what it would actually
feel like to be here among them,
to become one of them. To nurse
from a breast, to learn to use our legs
and form words with our mouths,
to see blood spring from a scraped knee.

To see the sunrise as one of them,
to know friendship as they give and receive it.
To feel the warmth of a fire, an animal;
of brotherhood, of working side by side
until some work is accomplished.

To feel a fever, a lump in the throat,
our stomachs stirring with hunger.
To know the feeling of cool water on our
bodies. To know how they feel, and
what they feel, when they feel anything
in their world.

And now you’ve had me here,
building a life, an occupation, a purpose,
for some time. Enough context to make
the ending even more exquisitely
painful than we already anticipated
it would be.

This has become too complicated,
too wrought with attachments.
And I am certain now the torment
well under way will be unbearable.
It is too much.

That is all I can say
on this horrible night.
Words are escaping me now,
and my heart won’t stop pounding.
It has brought me little peace
to speak honestly to you, to make
my feelings known, in spite of the forces
already at work against me.

I know I am loved,
I know there will be an end
to my suffering, my fear and despair,
and that is all I have in this dark moment.

Claire Juno, © 2015

 

The intention of this writing is rooted in empathy, wondering what this experience could have been like, to the best that I can understand it.

The Ultimate Empath

How does He do it?
How does He scoop up
the weight of a world’s worth
of pain, with tenderness
and perfect presence— and not
lose a little part of Himself
at the sight of us?

Fashioning His arms
into a mammoth cradle,
His tender lullaby sends
the clouds adrift, dishevels
the tops of oak trees,
weaves a sliver of morning
light between our curtains,
pins a gleaming crescent
of moonlight in our sky—
some kind of divine analgesic
in faithful doses,

until at last we fall asleep,
just as we are, just as we always are
and can only ever hope to be:
surrendered in the moment
to the sufferings of a fallen world,
to grief that shatters,
anguish that nips away
at our birthright of joy
like a famished street dog,
but in the end, still knowing
that Someone knows all about it.

Claire Juno, © 2017

Jacob’s Dream

You took me to a concert
in a darkened auditorium.
The spotlight was cast upon you,
reflected in your glasses.

You were in the lucky seat,
and the band, grooving
in their sparkly costumes
and afros, beckoned you
on stage to sing along
with them. As always,
you were game.

The crowd enjoyed the
spectacle, and cheered
your efforts, but then grew
restless, wanting to hear
more from the band.
You hopped down and
rejoined me in the audience,
just happy to be.
Joy.

We left, making our way
down a long flight of broad
white stairs, flanked by walls
on either side. We talked
comfortably, as though
we saw each other often,
but I cannot remember
what we discussed. There
were so many stairs.

A young man
with a head wound
grinned at us with a
sheepish jubilance
as he passed, going up
the same set of stairs.
We smiled back at him.

Eventually, I said something,
and you responded in turn,
the last words of an ordinary
conversation, the kind we’d had
many times before.

This must have been as far
as you could accompany me
as I descended, because then
I woke up this morning, nearly
nine years after your death,
feeling like I had sampled
someday’s home, ready to savor
today’s promise.

Claire Juno, © 2017

…dedicated to my brother.

Empathy

Be me for an evening.
Take this cup of soup
from my hands,
and slip on my old
red shoes.

Send prayers floating
up up to the fading sky,
Watch them drift to the
south with the clouds,
unredeemed.

The hydrangea and peony,
the withering fragrance
of Monday’s roses,
the spade stuck in a
vacant bed of dirt—

silent witnesses
to this nightly occupation,
my solitary journey
from here to just there,
a pacing tiger swishing
at the sunset and its insects,
restless for any promise
in the leaves,
the shadows.

But there is nothing here.

Claire Juno, © 2016