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David Chalmers: Fragments of consciousness

The New York Review of Books

Poetry 180


Jumping the Gap


   for my students


There are so many echoes in my life, but there’s one voice louder than the rest.

         It tells me to move on, be on the move.

There will never be a time just to look back and wonder.

Even this morning there are the birds, ever still in flight, and the wind

         Chirping in a nest of leaves. They say, Fly away and be still.

A phantom hand reaches out . . . now so near . . .  It’s Her hand –

         It pulls me forward. Flower and flame await, love and consummation.

This is what I believe: it’s never over.

May the next words I write bind me . . . cricket and rock,

         rain and tears, sparrow and sorrow . . . all one . . .  

         too foolish to see the trees in winter.

A hand claps: there are children at play, lovers blushing, there is a road leading into the

          mountains, the birthplace of sky and sea.

I jump the gap and see it all as flower and fire, worlds appearing and disappearing like children,   

          a daughter not to be but in love’s mirror.  

Here all is possible and real – a needle threads its way, becomes a tuning fork.

I move on and hear every heart beating as one its own raucous rhythm,

          unaware of the harmony that is creation.

I move on. A tiger leaps through the gap and mauls its prey, a girl beats her heart out on a

          drum, unheard; a babe lies abandoned in an eagle’s nest, its cry my

          own. My breathing stops.

I move on. A blue sky thunders, stars are born and burn out, a raven’s

         wing covers all.  A whirlwind out of the darkness sweeps us all along.

Who knows but I will meet you on the way to terra incognita.   

But here I am, writing these words, my legs ache, my right foot throbbing. I am hungry, alone,

          my days more like nights, my nights more like spring, a dying ember.

But what about tomorrow or tomorrow or tomorrow when I do not wake to wind or jay.

Then, my friends, hear my song . . . it will be the whirlwind of creation,

          sung at last as it should be sung.

Listen, listen, never stop listening. It’s your song too.