The dead tree quickens. Its leaves unfold
And become a pillar of gentle fire
That bursts into butterfly wings
And blood oranges over the tide pool
Where fresh and falling water joins the main.
Here, at the Place of Leaping,
Things turn into their opposites and turn again
Faster than the Monarch’s metamorphoses –
Larva into caterpillar, shell into winged soul –
Death into life, this side into the Other Side.
You listen to the Speaker in the tree
Who dares you to come to the edge
Telling you, “Leap now, or forever regret.”
You take off everything except your body
On the high cliff, and plunge like a diver.
The rocks call you and claim your flesh.
You are light as a white crane over the waves
But lose your direction until your old friends,
The dolphins, come to guide and carry you.
You stand on their backs like Aphrodite in the foam.
Your soul’s compass brings you across the churning sea
To welcoming faces, and places of rest and recollection
And the scholar-city, and the path of the Blue Star
Until you are called to dream your way back to us
With blue fire in your heart, singing a mermaid song.
Where sweet water meets salt, at Esalen. Photo by R.M.