Version 2

I’m still surprised when I look in the mirror
And see an old woman looking back at me

But one thing that surprises me even more
Than the wrinkling skin and the jiggly jowls
Is that this old womans eyes are filled with fire

This is not a cheery fire
Creating a sense of cozy warmth and homey safety
Confined, contained and domesticated in a fireplace made of polished stone

Or the raucous bonfire on a sand studded beach
Blazing to the heavens with a hunger for more and more and more
As youthful, limber, glistening bodies dance with abandon and grace
Fed by the heat and the promise of fecund, aching life

The fire that hides behind this old woman’s eyes
Is a fire that can no longer be reined in
Tamed
Domesticated
Harnessed
Muzzled
Or controlled by my human will or preference

It is an ancient fire
A howling fire
A timeless fire
A dangerous fire

It is the raging wildfire that cleanses the landscape down to the rocks and stones
Leaving behind nothing but blackened trees on a mountain hillside
Naked and charred in preparation of the slow eventuality of rebirth

It is the all consuming fire that strips your skeleton clean
Bleaching it solid white
Leaving it lying exposed in the charnel house
As devoted monks wail and pray over that final uncovering
Making your calcified corpse sacred once again

It is an undying fire
Smoldering quietly as glowing-eyed embers
A hidden heat buried underneath layers of gray ash
Awaiting just the right moment to burst into the flame of righteous revelation

It is the invisible fire that burns with a secret knowledge
That only comes when you have lived long enough
To feel in your bones the certainty of your own demise

This fire strips away any illusion of compartments and categories
Labels and preferences
Titles and demarcations
This fire reveals the story of separation as the biggest lie of all

This fire lays bare a truth that is rarely spoken
The truth that this earthly realm we struggle to call home
Is not a battleground between the forces of light and dark
Right or wrong
Good or evil
Life or death

But that we are rocked in the loving arms of an ongoing and eternal rhythm
Of mystery and epiphany
Divination and manifestation
Proclamation and prophecy
Inspiration and wildness
Breaking down
Breaking open
Breaking free

The fire stripping away anything that is not the tender knowledge
That everything is one thing
That holy paradox and numinous contradictions
Are simply the thousand upon thousand upon thousand faces of love