from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Sunday, 17 May 2015

peaches & ashes (with tideline)

'What sustains you when all falls to ashes? The world presents itself in moments – here and here and here – a ripe peach at the point of dropping. The train moves on and we don’t see whether the fruit is caught. 
Everything calls to us for attention. When did we learn to turn away? 
The lost art of being being simply enough. 
But moment after moment offered for the plucking. 
How do we relearn trust? Outside, the rain fumbles at the glass.'
(© Roselle Angwin, from 'Through rain', in Looking For Icarus (bluechrome 2005; reprinting June 2015, IDP)

I've been thinking recently about a phrase that Robert Bly uses in Iron John: 'the road of ashes'. It's a kind of turning away from ecstasy, pleasure, sensuality; a sort of turning inwards and downwards to face that within us which needs to be mourned, then let go. Strange, that it can rear its head in spring, when everything around us is burgeoning to its ripe pitch. The road of ashes brings a stillness with it that seems at odds with the rush and frenzy of spring. Perhaps winter's shadow hangs around a little longer than we think; a long shadow that needs to be faced and dissolved before we too can ripen towards summer.

Each of us will experience at times the way the path of delight, the way our heart's desires have led us, simply turn to ashes as we watch: the ashes of loss or change;  projects we had thought to be the best turning out to be thistledown in our fingers; the way gold turns back to lead through no fault of our own. 
Underneath all this of course is our natural craving for things to be different from the only way they can be; our demand for permanence and certainty in a world that offers us transience and uncertainty.

We pick the peach, the perfect rose – and, naively expecting it to last, then lament its passing. There's a gap between our dreams and 'reality', however we experience that, that is filled with yearning, with hireath, with our desolation that nothing can last.
Sometimes we have to retrace our steps: unpluck the peach, re-approach the tree, notice our motivations, bring more skill or compassion, check our egoic drive to make everything meet our wants. There is an argument that everything is unfolding as it should, whether or not we can see that, whether or not we like it.
As Bob Dylan didn't say: 'You might know what you want but you don't always know what you really need.'
Outer and inner worlds simply do cycle between order and chaos; through times of fullness and times of emptying out; times of swelling and expanding; times of falling away into ashes and decay. This is how it is.

What is there to do? 'You can't stop the waves but you can learn to surf.' Pluck the peach that the present moment offers. Enjoy it. Let the experience, with the peach stone, go.



  1. What synchronism! My haiku yesterday during the brushpainting weekend:
    peony petals
    scattered on green grass - one way
    of transition
    Love Bea xx

  2. Love the haiku, Bea! Would love to see the brush-painting some time.

    Forgive my haiku-teacher's hat here, but bearing in mind that they don't have to conform to the 5/7/5 model in English, and sometimes work better if not, what about:

    peony petals
    scattered on grass –
    one way of transition

    (though you could argue that yours is more surprising). And - grass is by definition green, that's why I wondered about omitting that?

    Hope you don't mind ;-).

    Love, Rxx

    1. How about just omitting the 'green', then the surprise is still there with 'one way' on the middle line?? Comment is always welcome:)!!
      Love B xx

  3. Yes, I'd go with that, Bea! xx


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