The Diver

2001, acrylic paint on hemp Linen; 5 x 7.5 feet

Alone on the deck in the middle of the fog and the fire
of your contemptible dreams too long dreamt
you spy a swaying, a buoy, coming closer
closing in—
the ship is coming closer
to the buoy that is a tower with a ladder
yes the ladder is always there
anchored to a platform just large enough
for going up rung after rung
you must climb because this is the real
the primordial energy
becoming manifest from within nothing

everything you have ever done and lived
was for this moment
oh long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore
the ship the fog your dreams
the horizon the ladder you are climbing up.

So good-bye to The Captain of the ship
the ark the luxury liner the Queen of the Sea good-bye
to all your vehicles, all that progressive conditioning
accepting the false
calling on misfortune—the human mentality—

the false that you knew
the damage that was done so good-bye to The Captain
now dropping you off as you watch as the ship goes away
and away and away into the next horizon becoming

insignificant then no


You are climbing now
washing the gum from your eyes
habituating yourself to the dazzle of light
and of every moment of your life

all the last moments, moment to moment
to see the treasures that prevail and still you climb because
you are in your body like a plant is solid in the ground yet
you are wind
in the air
that is blue and then bluer to clear
as you climb to orange
you climb to red
you arrive at the top to the place for your feet
to take a stand—
you are having to do this not like Cousteau
with his assiduous team aboard the sun-flooded schooner

but alone to stand to raise your arms to align your body
your toes, the anchor at the very edge of the platform
just large enough for your standing alone aligned
preparing to dive.

This is the place
and you are here and you are the diver's clothes lying empty
on the beach. You are the fish.

After all your striving ashes to ashes
we all fall down without faith or belief to dive
toward the howler and scooper of storms
the wreck, the sea, the dasher of amorous wet.

To your center line balance strength with trust—
will yourself to be the bold diver
toward the brine of life
the unshoveled yet always ready graves.
The words are purposes the words are maps.
Deru. Trust.
You, who were a child once, The Diver.

NOTE ON THE TEXT: Phrases in bold indicate samplings from various
published literary works including poems by Adrienne Rich, Walt Whitman,
RUMI, Ranier Maria Rilke; an excerpts from the I CHING.