THE RIVER

By Carlos Cardona

He's so old now!
A young sixty-nine just twenty years ago;
Very wrinkled of course, that fleshy old man face;
The beard helped hide the wasteland;
Flecked with grey and white,
The hair was still black. Receding but holding on;
Now look at him!

White wisps of hair cross his smooth scalp
Like first ski tracks on a fresh mountain;
His walking more like stilt walking;
Fragile bones about to break, breath giving out;
Needing help in every way, except in mind.

Still razor sharp at eighty-nine;
Still garrulous and funny;
Always thinking of the students and their Work;
A white beard that can still sing the Song of the Spirit,
Of a love beyond the world, a love everlasting, ineffable.
Unseen but felt electric;
And a technique for getting there as strict as a logic proof;
As well-known as eighty years of doing can know.

For eighteen years I've come here;
In better times and in worse;
Sometimes following the Master, sometimes forgetting all he said;
Sometimes my river flowing with resolve;
Sometimes quite frozen and not able to do
What would end paralysis and break down those barriers:
Liberating, reason-for-living spiritual labor of love: the work, the yoga.

He's leaving now, going back to the holy land India;
Hundreds will await at the airport;
Thousands more will hear "our spiritual Father is back."
But tonight he's still ours, ours for just one more session;
Jam session for the soul.

What's so indescribable, so always strange about him?
Sometimes off-putting, always charming?
I've noticed it for years,
Yet never been able to understand what both
Attracted and intrigued me, until tonight.

The richness of personality in an artist,
How sometimes he's Gandhi, sometimes DeSade,
Machiavelli talking like Marx, or Joyce like Dickens,
Tim Leary saying "drop out turn on tune in" with a wink,
That's what it is!

That strange eye-gleam like sailors have,
When they see what they've long missed at sea;
The baby's face when he looks up from breast to eyes;
That first-dance look when a girl is first asked up;
The young man's first glance of love at first sight.

The singer's look to heaven after the song of his career;
The dancer's look to earth when he realizes he can't dance anymore;
The busker's wink and grin as he passes 'round the hat;
The reader's return to Earth after the writer's last, best trip;

Lee surveying his troops;
Michelangelo his ceiling;
Shakespeare his first rehearsal;
Yoko the bleeding body of John;
Sean when they told him his daddy was dead;
The actor who decides that the show can still go on;

All flash and subside in the eyes of this wonderful old man.

And in his presence I'm transported to a mythic place,
I go inside the novel in my soul,

Govinda at the foot of Siddhartha;
Siddhartha by the river;
The river.

 

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