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Wendy Stern

Behind the scenes

 

The breath doesn't hurt me!

No punishments, no threats,

It rests, simply quietly,

Renewing life. Sustaining,

Moment after moment,

Offering no comment,

No judgement,

The breath, breathing itself,

Moment by moment,

Undemanding, generous,

Waiting quietly in the wings,

All the while,

Al the while.

 

Well, here I am again,

On stage once more,

Lights glaring down,

The characters know their lines, their parts,

So well, so well, as if born into them.

 

Here's a familiar one,

Pacing up and down the front of the stage,

Hands behind her back, head down,

Muttering and mumbling to herself:

''I've got so much to do,

There's just too much to do!''

Stressful to the eye, stressful to be.

 

Right at the back of the stage,

In the corner,

We can see the mouse's tail,

Just sticking out behind the heavy, velvet curtains.

Every now and then we hear a high-pitched squeak:

''I'm so scared,

I'm so scared!”

For that is its only line.

It scuttles across the stage sometimes,

Getting under everyone's feet,

Causing them to trip over

And forget their lines.

It creates a lot of trouble,

Attracts a lot of attention,

For one so small.

Funny how, tiny as it is, scared as it is,

It isn't afraid of the limelight.

 

The characters give the same show,

The same performances, day after day,

The same show today as there was yesterday,

The same yesterday as the day before.

Do they ever get bored, we might ask ourselves.

 

And all the while, all the while

The breath waits patiently in the wings,

 

Generously providing life,

Moment by moment,

Not commenting,

Not criticising,

Not judging,

Calmly, peaceably, offering life, offering a different way

Whether noticed or not,

Breath after breath,

There, waiting

Behind the scenes,

Behind all my scenes...

 

 

Melancholy in solitude

 

I seek,

As I always do,

Solitude.

Melancholy in solitude,

Familiar,

Uncomplicated,

Soothing,

The back way

To the woods,

Walking,

Wandering,

No prying eyes,

Just the leaves and I.

 

I seek,

As I always do,

Silence,

Melancholy in silence.

No interruptions,

No passers-by.

Valleys and streams,

Any hill will do,

Just the view and I.

 

I seek,

As I always do,

The land.

Skylines,

Surf against pebble,

Sunsets,

A rock to sit on,

Just the moon and I.

 

I seek,

As I always do,

Emptiness.

Melancholy in emptiness.

Uncluttered horizons,

January coastlines,

The meditation room,

Breath after breath,

Just the candle and I.

 

I seek,

As I always did,

The leaves,

The view,

The skies,

The moon,

 

The breath...

 

And solitude,

Melancholy in solitude.

 

 

Slowly, slowly

 

You bring your news

And I am in turmoil

I have my tantrums

And I ask myself why

 

But then slowly, slowly

I come to see you

And slowly, slowly

I come to know you

And slowly, slowly

You come to guide me

And always it hurts

 

There is my ego

There is my wanting

I make my demands

My calls upon life

 

But then slowly, slowly

I come to see you

And slowly, slowly

I come to know you

And slowly, slowly

You come to teach me

And always you are wise

 

I hold the glass

You show the fingerprints

Wherever I cling

You reveal the marks

I grip too tightly

And the vessel shatters

And it’s my hands that bleed

 

But then slowly, slowly

I come to see you

And slowly, slowly

I come to know you

And slowly, slowly

You come to offer to me

And still it hurts

 

You bring your news

And I am drowned again

I sense a presence

And I remember your name

 

Then slowly, slowly

I come to see you

And slowly, slowly

I come to know you

And slowly, slowly

You come to free me

 

Will I ever be wise?

 

 

Wendy is a Buddhist and poet living in Bristol, in the west of England. For many years she has been completely bedridden, and her poetry therefore comes from an unusual perspective. 

Writing poetry is Wendy’s passion and her only form of creativity and self-expression. Her work is produced without the capacity to look at text, to write or to use a laptop. Dictating the poems and then editing them aurally takes an immense amount of energy and concentration.