Ritual B – Grass – Week 2
Ritual B – Week 2 – Grass – 14/9/2020
Steps for Ritual:
1. Choose a place to take a walk. Today was happenstance. Walked Whakahekerau’s (St. Clair/Kilda Beach) length silently chanting the first third of the Guru Gita by memory alongside the high tide. At the end of the beach, by the large, wave-beaten rocks, I read all of the book Service by Grant Souders before continuing with the ritual.
2. Choose a poem by someone you have had proximity with in one or more of your places. Think of this as extended family, some close, some more distant.
Whisper that poem five times while you walk. Feel each step and breath. Feel the wind participate with your breath.
Today, that poem is “Grass” by Grant Souders. I memorized the short poem and recited.
3. At the end of the fifth recitation, find a plant. Go based on feel. Try to see what catches your senses or if any draws you towards its leaves/stalks/stem/root.
Today, I chose a small patch of grass that lives, now behind a log of driftwood.
4. Ask the plant if you can hold it. Hold it for 10-15 minutes reciting the Gayatri Mantra again and again. Feel and think of the sun.
a. Gayatri Mantra: Om bhur bhuva swaha tatsavitur varainyam, bhargo devasyadhimahi dhiyoyonahpracodayat. Om shanti shanti shantihi. (No translation for now because I don’t know it or think of it, though I have recited this mantra multiple times every day for decades).
5. Either write where you are OR take the return walk, whispering whatever sounds come to mind.
Today, I wrote while sitting in the sand beside the grass.
A happenstance ritual. Walked the beach earlier in the day to simply walk the beach. Still thinking of “the artist who walks rivers” that Simon told me about. Nice, warm day. I forgot to wear sunscreen. Ended up spending five hours on the beach. Read Service by Grant Souders. I haven’t spoken to Grant since I left Colorado. But, wow, this book. Rajiv has talked about how much he loves the book. I knew I liked it, but the quiet observation. The subtle overwhelming power of syntax. Of revision and apposition. And I read grass and thought of the beach grasses, how in them, supposedly, live the only species of poisonous spider in Aotearoa, how irrationally fearful of spiders I can be. How to hold my hand there for a long time, caring more for the grass than for my possibly-bitten hand that may, if bitten, swell, but surely survive. So I sat on the driftwood. So I held the grass, a few strands of a small patch, what might have been two small patches. The waves now having become my auditory baseline. The wind, gentle, but rising. The people, sparse, but certainly more walking by than in the other rituals. Me, fully clothed. Me, fully content to hold the grass. And then, afterward, when I begin to write, a fleck of bird shit slaps the back of my left hand. Hah! Yesterday, a bird full-on shit on my right shoulder on this same beach. On my shoulder clothed in a pricy merino sweater Tessa splurged on for me for our anniversary/my birthday. A joy to wash it off with water and sand.
The wind and grass want as much as we take
They told me this, they want as much as we think we take, so little.
The driftwood was felled islands and years from here.
Where it dries. Where it’s dry.
What do I do with sunlight?
Today, I forgot the sunscreen.
Melanin saves me the dune hill saves me the grass takes the breeze and shields me
This unforeseen consequence of its desire, a desire I know nothing of, but know it has.
The tree, long dead, has taken to my ass’s stay.
This has nothing to do with desire.
Maybe resignation perhaps even contentment but don’t tell me it’s inert.
Even now it offers itself to the wind and sand for carving. Now it shields the grass from a misplaced, prolonged gust.
Gustatory as seasoned meat how does it taste my vegetarian thigh
The grass is a tongue the Earth a mouth and I a cavity in the left molar
My buoy the one I’ve buttressed by many too many another has room for more but falls apart
Must give itself to apartness to participate in another mode.
This isness is an is I am.
This I is too dictated by its eye.
Which is a way of saying gaze saying want saying close your eyes.
The word wind hits your face the way a beam of light browns the grass’s stalk.
You hold still for the time it takes three gulls to congregate in a neck-led hunt before your feet.
And then they relent to the thirst of their wings.
Who know how long the sun will keep re-appearing. Who knows how different the sun is in my what brain impaired by nearly blind vision.
Callous the lens that offers sight.
Grass and driftwood, walk me close-eyed home.
From the sea I emerged and from you emerged the universe. Viśvam.
The salt that pricks my shivering nose is all the thirst I need.