Past Lives by Irene McKinney
Sad news. West Virginia poet laureate Irene McKinney has passed away. Here’s a lovely poem of hers from the Blackbird archives. (Apologies, the formatting doesn’t keep.)
Go ahead. There’s only the one life,
really, even if there are more.
Whoever takes us by the hand
and sets us on the path to the temple
must be trusted. A prince,
a weaver, a carpenter.
This is the way the living instruct us.
Not with money or power. To that
I become deliberately blind.
Everything happens at least
twice anyway, once in the body
and once in the soul.
I stare at the green bills without seeing,
a self-chosen idiot savant.
In every cell some
happiness lurks, you can feel
it when somebody
hugs you. Go ahead,
you are already everything that’s happened.
You are seven years of the moon’s sucking
and pulling back. What happens now
happens then. Go, and hang out in the bardo,
move along. There are 54 wrathful deities
and 48 peaceful deities
you will have to meet. Try to
feel the channel-wheel
at the heart. And if
you really must, try to take a birth
where you can get some work done.
Go on. There’s only this one.