Ulysses' Purse

by Jane Siberry

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1.
the first time I saw you you would not stop to talk your fierce determination was going to get you to the top then the mountain became as a blade of grass lowering you to the delphin sea can one’s heart can one’s heart break can one’s heart break even as it bursting be? I love you, yes I do I love everything about you I love how you laugh in your sleep how you smell of roses when you weep I love your style your wide-open prairie smile hide not your light under a bushel the next time I saw you I saw that you had changed you’d pulled the darkness ’round you and hid yourself away liquified by ancient tides you waited quietly can one’s heart can one’s heart break can one’s heart break even as it bursting be? I love you, yes I do I love everything about you I love how you can laugh even when you’re mad how you smell of roses when you’re glad I love your style your wide-open prairie smile hide not your light under a bushel the last time I saw you you’d changed your name to Liberty your fierce determination as you twisted to break free and when you finally unfurled in glorious victory can one’s heart can one’s heart break can one’s heart break even as it bursting be? I love you, yes I do I love everything about you what you might consider a weakness or a flaw we consider uniqueness, real and right for you we love your style your wide-open prairie smile hide not your light under a bushel… someday you might need your own light to see hide not your light under a bushel
2.
Dark Tent 05:58
do you remember the dark tent desert white hot glowing do you remember the long road to the dark tent feet bleeding hearts singing do you remember the songs of the dark tent sands sighing night owl sobbing do you remember the dawn when the flap rose light flooding in and the thunder as the tumblers broke goodbye my love goodbye my love for too long do you remember the dark bar city crowded dirty lonely do you remember the dark side of the dark bar you came in, you came over like you knew me you did not know me, didn’t matter we had a few drinks, a few laughs we never asked each others names then we left in a taxi, silly, laughing again you overtipped, my high heels hurt we stumbled up some stairs to your place where we stripped and then things went terribly wrong we looked into each other’s eyes for too long it scared me I ran out calling your name do you remember the dark tent on the desert where we’d lay close listening as the sands froze
3.
I was standing at the back of a crowd at the edge of the sea, a multitude a single word a hush would fall I prayed that your gaze might fall on me that my longing might part the sea of faces and in my misery I turned and walked away come up my brother come up my sister come up my children and walk on water with me I walked away from that crowd out along a long and dusty road I saw a woman she was lying there in pain crying out to me but I was so absorbed in my own loneliness are you not my brother? I guess not yet oh, to turn back the hands of time drowning in my shame come up my brother come up my sister come up my children and walk on water with me I’d give anything to hear your voice to touch your hand, your hem, anything I knelt down in hopelessness hopelessness I’d give everything to feel your grace to wash your feet, kiss your hem, anything I knelt down in thankfulness and then I felt virtue flow to me come up my brother come up my sister come up my children and walk on water again oh, that was the night of nights I stood against the sea in that strange starlight I felt the wind upon my face I thought I heard my name I thought I heard our names
4.
Anytime 05:06
the hardest thing I’ve ever done was to stand back when I wanted to run after your tiny unprotected back but stand back I must as you learn to trust your wings your heart anytime anytime that you want me I’ll always be here anytime anytime that you need me I’ll always be here and in your darkest hour I will always be nearby through Love’s power anytime anytime that you call me I’ll always be here anytime anytime that you miss me I’ll always be here and in your darkest hour I will always be nearby through Love’s power I’ll always be here I’ll always be here I’ll always be here for you someday when I’m long gone I’ll still always be here somehow … maybe in the wind or maybe in the rain or maybe in a song or maybe in the sunshine the beauty of a rose a feather falling near you the kindness of a stranger to show that I hear you I will always I will always be here for you always
5.
Geranium 04:24
I don’t remember a box I don’t remember a bow I do remember a gunnel, ribs thump of paddle I do remember women’s voices and being carried across the water shoreline white pine ravens wilderness I don’t remember where I was when I first was lifted up I don’t remember where I was when I first held the cup I only know that you were there I looked into your eyes and there I saw a world so … I don’t remember a bow I do remember a box the box much smaller than you when you were born your father stumbling once carrying your box across the lawn I do remember the minister’s shoes and a lawn-mower nearby a drop of dew geraniums and the crumpled kleenex in my mother’s hand beside I don’t remember where I was when I first was lifted up I don’t remember who I was when I first held the cup I only know that you were there I looked into your eyes and there I saw a world so beautiful so full of love and hardship too I held my breath and with the breath of god I came rushing through
6.
you’re sitting in a cafe, feelin’ good, havin’ fun you’re watching a tiny sparrow hopping on the table and you’re feeding it some crumbs you look up and see someone watching you with disgust and fake hygienic fear you knock the table over as you stand up saying it’s just a sparrow is there anyone sane around here? everything you knew was good and true when you were just a child it hasn’t gone away everything you knew was right to do when you were just a child it hasn’t gone away we watched you catch your first fish and then we watched you cry we watched you make a wish for the world as you freed a butterfly then you closed your beautiful forehead and opened up your book of life trying on the clothes of being a rebel, leader, conformist, pleaser, victim just tryin’ to get it right everything you knew was good and true when you were just a child it hasn’t gone away everything you knew was right to do when you were just a child it hasn’t gone away everything that you know everything that you trust everything beautiful as you knew in the beginning so you shall know once again as you finally overturn the tables of the press of throng in the temple within there’s a fire building inside you burning off dross and straightening out the track you’re starting to hear music again and when you lose your taste for salt you won’t look back everything you knew was good and true when you were just a child it hasn’t gone away everything you knew was right to do when you were just a child it hasn’t gone away everything you knew was good and true when you were just a child it hasn’t gone away everything you knew was right to do when you were just a child it’s just been waiting for you it’s just been waiting for you
7.
Five & Dime 05:04
imagine a world where the columns of the temple come to life at first stiff and then flexible and flowing striding down the street a perfect reflection of their inner beauty, inner glory reaching here, helping there until separation from their brother is just a puzzling memory instead of quietly sitting in their cubicles at work wondering how this came to be Marjorie works the diner at the five & dime making sure that no one feels alone she’s famous for her kindness and her Solomon’s advice but if you saw her on the bus you’d not look twice and hopelessly unmodern Millie does not look right in a cadillac she just doesn’t hopelessly unmodern Millie does not sound right in comradely banter she can’t seem to banter back but lead her to the ledger of a hopeless nightmarish, accounting mess and she can bring the columns back to life with her numerical tenderness imagine a world where the columns of the temple come to life at first stiff and then flexible and flowing striding down the street a perfect reflection of their inner beauty, inner glory reaching here, helping there until separation from each other is just a puzzling memory instead of quietly sitting in their own apartments five feet from each other watching the same show on different tvs and then there was Moose who worked at the corner store if you talked to him about spirituality he’d just shrug his huge shoulders ‘what?’ he is everything you would not want in a refined, romantic cavalier, I suppose but on the day they came up over that hill he out-Thorred Thor and Quincy, he’s a hard-assed kid who lives under the overpass downtown when he comes at you with a squeegee well, you kinda sorta wanna duck down sometimes you do but if a teen unseen a bird unheard, a struggling flower should fail to take to song, to take to wing Quincy’s the first one to their side he has that healing thing imagine a world where the columns of the temple come to life at first stiff, and then flexible and flowing striding down the street a perfect reflection of our inner beauty, our inner glory reaching here, helping there until separation from each other is just a puzzling memory instead of quietly sitting at the family reunion saying oh gosh, oh no, you don’t want a picture of me well, actually … we do and Ramona she works the library cart in the third ward
8.
Morag 07:13
oh darlin’ … arise from your mossy bed leave your lichen dreams behind the deer have left clear trails for you to find lift the bough to the left, press the bough to the right today has something special for you oh darlin’, there’s a man a-knocking on your door at midnight most days he’s a handsome stranger with lots of wisdom and he’s come to help you on your way oh my darling, you have so much love ahead of you somedays you’ll feel like you can fly or like Hercules standing against the azure sky and other days you’ll feel like you don’t have the will to carry on, to carry out your dreams you’ll choke on truth and your body will get sick instead but the wondrous thing is help is everywhere and it comes in the strangest of ways so poetic and poignant is the fare like in springtime when peeper frogs rise up from the mud they’re happy, they’re laughing they’re calling for love at the top of their lungs like you thought you never could and they did instead healing is in the air life is a precious ring given to us by love to polish and shine with all we learn with all we earn like perhaps forgiving others and getting on with loving ourselves instead and shining will be the eyes of your friends holding your perfection when you can’t when you recant your soul and descend into darkness on your way to the miracle of spring oh darlin’, the gift of your sensitivity is truly a gift though you’ll be told it is a weakness, a handicap in fact, you’ll be the sound of the ocean before we see it you’ll keep us safe and on track this also means, though you’ll be standing in the village square feeling nauseous and deaf you’ll just be picking up what’s left after all the hangings that took place there oh my darlin, when things don’t make sense when things feel desperate and insane all beauty doomed remember the choice that’s always yours to make in the blink of an eye, the all-seeing eye you can choose to change coal into diamonds with compassion and love and greater understanding instead … and as we learn to do such things with all our heart and soul and might with the intensity of single sight we’ll see things we’ve never seen before they say we will do this and much more we will have the healing hands to help the ones we love which will be every living thing oh darlin, only touch the things that turn you on let whatever makes you dark and dull and drained be gone even if people criticize and say you’re wrong this makes for a life that’s beautiful and bright a life that shines with your own light a life where you wake up everyday excited to be up and on your way and that makes for a love of this world where separation has no place is replaced by the sound of bells and wings, and the upsweep to grace oh darlin’, there’s a man a-knocking on your door at midnight these days
9.
Mama Hereby 06:33
mama, are you listening? please put your tea towel down this is the most important thing I’ve ever said I love you as my mother I love you as no other but the pain we cause each other is killing me can we hereby agree with love and dignity from now on my life is fine and you are free? you know anytime you come to me with love my arms will always be open all the times I lay my head upon your lap your hand upon my forehead brought such comfort such treasured memories as are so many still but across this kitchen table words are hurting can we hereby agree with love and dignity from now on my life is fine and you are free? you know anytime you come to me with love my arms will always be open don’t worry about my health or my weight my body is just fine don’t worry about what other people think of me just laugh about my ways and be glad that I have faith and for what time is left let’s just enjoy each other’s company let us hereby agree with love and dignity from now on my life is fine and you are free don’t cry, mama this is not goodbye not at all try, mama be light, mama like with your friends, mama be light with me too you know anytime you come to me with love (or not) my arms will always always always my arms will always be open to you
10.
In My Dream 06:22
I’m running along with my father he’s running like a boy we’re running along in slow motion and he falls in the leaves like a child strong and free in my dream in my dream I’m running along with my mother she’s laughing like a girl she’s telling me about all her hopes and dreams there is light in her eyes she is open, she is wise in my dream in my dream in my dream it’s October and the leaves are floating down like tiny yellow boats each finding their own unique, particular way to the ground I’m running along with my sister our pigtails flying free we’re racing ahead of our sweet baby brother there is joy on our faces we are sure of our places in my dream in my dream and the dog runs ahead of us always almost-out-of-sight pulling us further into the golden autumn light a lighthouse for the family following that sweet familiar tail pulling us closer on the troubled family trail I’m running along with my family we’re running through the leaves we’re running along in slow motion we are happy we are laughing no one’s missing we are holy in my dream in my dream in my dream we are holy in my dream
11.
you know, when the great train of freedom comes no one will be left behind not the least of sparrows nor those on their darkest flight all shall be lifted up into the light and the stable doors will open and from cages bird will fly and the animals will talk to us like they used to not like this like THIS when the great train of freedom comes when every village bell starts to ring when every whistle blows in the valleys below when people look up listening and angels shall enter the building with music on their lips placing stars on our foreheads like a kiss not like this like THIS when the great train of freedom comes when wealth will be who you are not what you have when common sense will guide instead of fear when we can stand with honesty and love before the mirror when all sisters and brothers stand together against separation from each other when in all living things we can hear the angels sing when we know, really know that love is everything and the butterfly flies between buildings bright across the empty lots and through the barbed wire then up towards the snowy mountain pass holding holding like THIS like THIS when in all living things we can hear the angels sing when we know, really know that love is everything you know, this great train of freedom has come a long, long way over a long, long time right to where we stand here together today
12.
13.
let me be a living statue holding all that life does send let me be a living statue knowing when to brace or bend the eye within the hurricane the spire within the spiraling storm a gauge of love’s eternal promise whispered through each dawning morn let me be a living statue stark against indifference let all life move through me freely joy and sorrow pure, intense let me know the faith that knows no bounds no meager-more my chosen sound the sound of exultation ever-upward countenance though the jagged winds despair to ever rise above the sound so the human soul in rising up still panics that we’ll drown as you flowed through those before me now I separate my rings I consider this the lily I accept all that this brings facing fully to the wind not turning from the hardest parts let me be a living statue fearless, though my pounding heart let me be a living statue holding all that life does send let all life move me freely joy and sorrow pure, intense let my blessings simply be to know each moment blessing me let me be a living statue a pillar of love’s firmament let me be a living statue holding all that life does send let me be a living statue knowing when to brace or bend let my blessings simply be to know each moment blessing me and let me be a living statue holding all that life does send

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released January 11, 2018

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