The Low Gate
Woe be unto them who disdain to humble themselves willingly
with little children; because the low gate of the Kingdom of Heaven
will not give them entrance.
Thomas À Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
Who needs the stuff from the top shelf of anything?
Who wants to drag the stupid step stool out
one more time? Keep all that’s best and precious
in the bottom of the closet, a nested corner, blankets,
teddies, cars, the doll and all her clothes,
a cup of grape juice and a plate of crackers.
All you need is down there, knee high,
forest floor high, where all the leaves fall anyway,
when they’re reddest and goldest and crispiest;
snowman high, sled high, high as a lap, as the space
under a glittering tree, as a lamb and a hungry donkey
and the box beside them with the hay in it;
tidepool high, with all the little crabs
who pinch your finger but it doesn’t hurt,
high as your toes with black sand squished between them,
as the seaweed, shining the best green in the sunlight,
as beach glass blue and white, that you can hold
as hard as you can and it will never cut you;
park bench high, grass high, dandelion high,
high as the gravel path, the teeter-totter, the swings,
the slide you can climb to through its perfect little door,
no higher than the big hand let down for you to hold.
“What matters is how fast the rain falls and how fast the ground can soak it up.”
- from a Vancouver radio weather forecast, January 13, 2006
What matters is what comes down on us, how much and how quickly, and can we swallow it all before we drown?
What matters is the endless downpour that we can’t absorb, that overflows and escapes, that threatens to bear us away.
What matters is the water, all the beautiful water, this thing we need that can kill us with its bountiful love — like King Kong, with a dreamy slip of its baby finger.
What matters is that we not fall off the hill, that roots stay rooted, that floodwaters be directed down harmless and acceptable channels, that everyone stay warm and safe and dry.
What matters are our feet on firm earth; no shifting; no concession to gravity.
What matters is the horizonless expanse of iron cloud.
What matters about what matters is what we know already: fingers will slip. Shoes will be submerged. We will be slivers of old soap, washed and washed until nothing is left of us.
We’ll be silt then, a few handfuls of dust rushing down the mountain in the flood, hoping that somewhere along the way we’ll catch on something solid, a stone or root, long enough to let the ground soak us up.