Clear as Day
Jennifer Angelina Petro
One never knows until never is up,
And then you know whatever it was
You didn’t know before never ran out.
It’s kind of like this: A firefly
Turns its own light on and off
In an effort to get your attention.
Certain questions act the same way—
Bobbing up and down, elusive—
Hints flashing among the dark trees;
Every so often, and often again—
Someplace different—a little to the left,
A little higher, and sometimes, seemingly,
Rising to the moon, all in an effort
To be followed.
Trick is—and it is a trick—keep watching
For the lights—they can bloom anywhere
In the fields of summer darkness;
When you see one, follow its green-tinted
Ribbon where ever it goes, as best you can,
And if you lose sight of it—disappointment,
Frustration—are perfectly valid responses.
Try and remember this:
When you fall asleep, and answers
Lift through the trees—out of reach—
Do your best to not give up.
Your dreams–along with a gathering of angels
And shadows—will ponder the questions for you,
And when morning comes, and the dawning sun shines,
It will all be clear as day.
Finding the Field
Jennifer Angelina Petro
Inside. And that
Is so easy
For me to say.
And for that, I am
Ever grateful. For you,
It may not be.
The furthest thing
May be a field
It might be so far
Away it may as well
Not even be there.
You might be
Full of vast ink-
Oceans and fog
That moves as if
It was alive—the darkness
Might be so all
Anything else in there.
Try this though—
Close your eyes, and take
As slow, deep a breath
To the count of four as you can,
Hold it gently to
The count of four,
Then exhale slowly
To the count of four,
Do this sequence three times
And then low
A field appears
In front of you, watch—
It might be golden wheat,
It might be soft green
And full of flowers,
It might be a field
Of sunflowers stretching as far
As the eye can see.
See the golden field
Sway as the wind touches
Each strand with so much
Tenderness, see how the field
Ripples with a river of joy from the touch,
See it—the sun—raying exquisitely
And warm; and see
Blue sky arching over
A perfectly color-
With the field.
Notice you are
Standing just outside
The field. Realize
The wheat, the grass, the wild flowers
Nearly all come up
To your waist–
Except the sunflowers—
See them bowing their heads
To smile upon you—
And there you are just
On the edge of the field.
You reach out your hand,
And brush the top of the grass.
Now, you can either step into the field
Or you can turn around
Back to whatever it is
That’s behind you. There
You have a choice:
Brilliant, luminous light-touched
Field, darkness that isn’t
The nourishing kind, but draining.
Whatever it is you choose,
Know this: you now have
A field inside you,
And it will always be there,
It always has been there
Swaying beneath the breath
Of the one who loves you.
The next step is not just
Up to you. I mean, it is, and also
There are forces–
Currents and hands
Pushing and pulling, guiding,
Persuading, nudging, influencing
The way. And there are the ones
Who, for whatever the reasons
Cannot choose—illnesses of many kinds
Perhaps inhibit the ability to freely choose—
Those will all be born along
And cared for as they bloom
Into full health and radiance.
For those who can, and I believe
You are one of them—you
Are blessed to be able to choose. Finally, there
Appears a thousand fireflies
Floating and bobbing,
Right there, in the daylight,
Illuminating light upon light,
And whatever you do
When the time comes to decide,
Remember this: there is field inside you,
Swaying beneath the breath of the one
Who loves you.
The Darker the World Becomes
Jennifer Angelina Petro
Winter, I am here.
I should be sleeping, like
The bears and bees, and somewhere
Yet, I am awake. And there is
Darkness, and there is cold, and there is
The silencing of snow, and yet,
I am here, awake, and as best I can,
A light, and as best I can—descending.
The earth has been compressed—
Seeds and all manner of growing things—
Are pressed deep into the cold ground.
I am still walking. And through
Winter’s necessary darkness, I move,
And as I do, striding with my little light,
The darkness spreads, parts, like curtains,
And with every step, the darkness gives way
Illumined and warming towards spring.
This isn’t to say darkness is wrong,
This isn’t to say I am savior or enlightened,
It simply means I am awake, it simply means
I have a job to do, it simply means
My soul is in the right place, it simply means
The darker the world becomes
The brighter I will be.
That Stubborn Superhero
Jennifer Angelina Petro
Out in nature, which is
To say, in us—it happens
The longest night comes
Filling what little day there is left
With thinly veiled darkness,
That, veil after veil, begins
To cover the day, like
A shawl thrown in slow motion
Over a lamp.
After the night has had its run,
It slowly—you’d better believe it—
Shrinks back to a more manageable size,
It contracts as the day exhales,
And with each exhalation, spring,
Moment by seemingly imperceptible
Moment—swells with such joy
It can barely contain itself.
And the light begins to coax the darkness
Into slipping away into time and to allow
Itself to grow its slow, wild warmth.
We have all gone through darknesses
That seemed to last forever—
At least—I have—when I couldn’t
Believe any light would ever come
Ever, ever, again, and that the abyss
Of not being able to see or hardly move
Would enshroud me forever.
If this has ever happened to you,
Or maybe is happening to you
Right now—believe it—spring always
Comes—little by hardly noticeable little
Darkness becomes less and less
And seeds of exhaultation can’t wait
To burst into flowers and tangible light.
I am not saying all darkness is bad.
There is a holy darkness, touched
With water and earth, where fireflies
Bedazzle the night, where love-making
Eases us into the sweetest sleep.
I am talking about the darkness
That swallows the will and chews it
Practically into nothing.
Just as too much light burns,
Too much darkness freezes the soul.
So, take my word for it—as someone
Who has been there and is taken there
Against my will every year—the swallowing darkness
Turns and slips away like a receding flood of black ink
Eventually, leaving gardens of survival,
Fragrant with honeysuckle,
And damp with laughter.
You’d better believe it,
Or if, like me, sometimes
That is impossible to do–
Pretend to believe it—or even if
That is too hard to do—don’t then–
Because its true regardless:
Never once has the night held captive
The day forever. Day, that stubborn superhero,
Will break free of night’s weakening grasp,
And soar, ringing through the fields,
Leaving visible hope spreading
Over all the land.
All donations go to medical expenses and groceries. Thank you for your support. <3
Nursing the Dark, Eating the Light
Radiance Angelina Petro
One day, an acorn and a cicada nymph were talking underground, when a beam of light suddenly appeared shining down on the acorn.
“What is that?” asked the acorn.
“It’s light,” said the cicada.
“Why is it tugging at me?”
“That’s what light does.”
“What if I don’t want to move?”
“Dunno,” said the cicada, “I’ve been under here for 17 years. I like the dark.”
“I haven’t been under here for nearly as long,” said the acorn, “but it sure is comfortable.”
“And cool,” said the cicada, “and snug, and yeah, so cool—wonderfully cool.”
“What do I do?” asked the acorn.
“The pull. I mean, my heart feels like it’s breaking, and something inside wants out.”
“Go with it,” said the cicada. “So part of you moves into the light? Your roots will always be in darkness.”
“And what about you?”
“Me?” Said the cicada, “Well, when the light draws me out, and I climb a tree and wait for my wings to spill out, then my roots will be in the sky.”
“Should I try to fight the light?” asked the acorn.
“Good luck,” said the cicada. “Funny thing is, once during late summer, you fell to the ground and the darkness pulled you under and you loved it. You didn’t resist. You couldn’t resist. I heard you sinking down. You were weeping and laughing all at the same time because it was so nourishing and safe-feeling to be under here. Now you want to fight the light. Try this, just try breathing in the light, and see what happens.”
The acorn did as the cicada suggested and she suddenly felt the light breathing her and she found herself unfurling into the bright, blue sky, and the light–she was eating the light.
“There ya go,” said the cicada.
“Aren’t you coming?” asked the acorn as she turned away.
“When I have suckled the roots of the mother tree long enough,” said the cicada, “then I will come. For now I am still nursing the dark.”
Joseph Anthony Petro
The thing is
No one believes me.
How the fireflies dazzled their way
To my back screen door, like
A galaxy spiraling towards me.
No one believes their light
Became so strong, so blinding
It simply crossed the threshold
Into my kitchen, gathered me up
In its arms, and lifted me outside
Into the night, and upwards, passed the trees,
Higher, into the clouds of moonlit angel hair,
And higher, to the stars,
Where suddenly it let me go
And still I kept rising, and the mass of fireflies sang—
(I didn’t know fireflies sang),
And I rose to their shimmering chorus up,
Up until the moon grabbed me out of the sky
And swirled me over and over in her jet black hair
As a spider tumbles a fly in a web,
And I laughed as she spun me, for her hair
Was soft as wind, and she sang like the fireflies
An uncluttered lullaby—pure, incandescent, like
Rays of sunlight beaming through a morning forest,
And the more she wove, the more I could breathe,
And her song bathed around me every bit
As softly as her hair, and when she finished,
And I had tumbled one last time
I found myself drifting to sleep in her satin shrouded arms,
And somewhere nearby I could see
The fireflies forming a ring around us,
Encircling us in diamonds and glittering sapphires,
And I could feel her chest rise and fall
As she too began to sleep,
And the dreams we had that night
Were unlike any I have ever had.
To say they were resplendent
Would be putting it mildly—they were dreams
Of pure, radiant light—my mind and soul blazed
With brilliance, sang with silver, rang with bells
Of crystal, and I knew things—answers
To things—questions exploded like fireworks
And then drizzled towards me like
Ribbons of fireflies—because they were fireflies—
Each and every one of my questions was a firefly,
Every one of the answers was too,
And I knew right then and there,
Asleep in the arms of the moon,
Guarded by a legion of fireflies,
That the world, no matter how dark,
No matter how light, was made of light–
Light brighter than we could ever imagine, light
That made the darkness darker so as to illuminate
The way for angels carrying candles, light
That made the sun seem playfully small,
Light that made my problems and their solutions become bubbles of dew,
And everything, everyone was the chosen one,
Every atom, cell, strand of dancing DNA
Was chosen, and lit up from within
With a heavenly darkness,
And loved beyond measure,
Loved beyond fear, loved beyond doubt,
Loved beyond the wildest passions
One could ever hope for—loved beyond belief.
I knew these things asleep in the arms of the moon.
And when I woke I was in my bed,
And when I stood I stumbled,
And when I stumbled I stayed on my knees
And thanked the moon, the fireflies, the stars,
And when I rose to go tell the world
How the answers and the questions—how
Your heart and my heart, your body and my body, your soul
And my soul, your mind and my mind, are all made of light,
How we are all chosen, how we are all known,
And that the way to letting your light shine
Is to go, go through the darkness,
Go through the darkness
Until you sleep in the arms of the moon, like
A baby–when I rose to tell the world
I heard you say, what good will it do?
It’s not about good, I replied. It’s about knowing
That somehow, someway we are all OK,
We are all light destined for light, to hatch into light.
So right now, in this place, in this moment in time and space,
Take my hand, and rejoice, and go, I said,
Go into the darkness—
Run, stumble as I did, stumble for years if you have to, just go,
I will be by your side. Go until you see them—
Angels carrying candles, fireflies lanterning the path,
The moon opening her arms. Go.
Go and be loved by light swaddled in darkness until your own self-love
Dawns like a summer morning in the night of your self-hate.
I know. You’re right. I was wrong about what I said
At the beginning. I know you believe me.
Stop for a Moment
Joseph Anthony Petro
You never were
Than you are now, and yet,
One day, one day sooner
Than you think,
You will be so much more.
It isn’t simply a matter of perspective.
It is more akin
To falling in love with yourself.
How can this be, and what
Does loving yourself
Have to do with anything?
Close your eyes.
Breathe in the image
Of a seed sleeping in the earth,
Hold it there a moment—
Now breathe out the image
Of a tree crowned with the sky.
Now breathe in the image
Of a bird’s egg,
Hold it there a moment—
Then breathe out the image
Of a bird, in this case an owl
Gliding with a mantle of stars
Over a moonlit marsh.
How is a tree—sturdy
Yet swaying, rooted yet reaching,
Not an image of the earth
Loving itself into the sky?
How is an owl, a heart with wings,
Not an image of the night
Turning its head around
To look at itself in pure astonishment
You were once a zygote
And now you are reading this
Blossoming into your life;
You are what loving your neighbor
As yourself is all about.
You are a seed-spark growing,
Reaching, branching out as a body of light—
God’s own flame
Dancing in a hearth of flesh and bone,
And one day, one day sooner than you think,
The flame will leap from the room
Of your life and become an owl of astonishment
Perched in a tree crowned with the sky
And sleep all day in a mantle of clouds,
Waiting for the night to fall in love
With itself again, so you can drop
And express yourself in silent flight
Swathed in moonlight and a hunger
That is both holy and full of becoming more
Than you are now.
A Living Bridge
A Living Bridge
Right now, this very moment,
Roots spread vast interwoven networks
Of lace and hands held in intimate solidarity,
Fingertips touching in honest exploration,
And filaments gathering nutrients
From underground rivulets and raindrops,
And then, these divinely rooted roots, in their total,
Moist and cold darkness, allow light
To draw the sustenance, lift
The sustenance up through the body
In the slowest possible pulse of sweetness.
This is all happening beneath our feet
And our uncommon awareness. But know it now
And then do the same with your sorrows.
For your life depends on it,
And there are others in darkness,
Doing their best to hold on.
And there’s more:
Tress not only radiate below,
Expanding in darkness,
They radiate above, outstretched and planted
In sky, extracting nourishment from the surrounding sphere
Of influential light, drawing it in
Through their reaching and holy availability,
And then they transform their daily bread of sun
Into air for all living things.
Do the same with your joy.
With fragrant, open hands, share the wild fruits
Of self-awareness, and the colorful leaves
Of letting go into the moment,
And the sheer strength of being there,
Day in day out, steady and true.
Be a living bridge between below and above,
In the clear space of listening and speaking,
In the shared truth of existence sway
In jubilant wonder, dance
In the holy middle of being alive.
Every seed is hand-crafted
and placed lovingly in a world
of sweetness and protection.
Every seed contains the hope of sky,
and the memory of a passageway,
and the deepest ache and longing for light.
And inside every seed burns a steady darkness.
Not the kind where you can just make out the shapes of things,
but the kind where nothing is visible,
and this is good, holy, necessary.
And every seed holds a question
Whose answer opens into vast,
Cathedrals of light. And then,
life surges further upwards, blazing slowly
through blindness, past hard places,
past bones and ancient relics of past generations,
through the sweet, congratulating earth,
through darkness, and out–
out into the golden warmth
of limitless possibilities.