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Chard deNiord: The Music of Being

By this time, we are both an open secret. — James Wright

He also showed me a tiny thing in the palm of my hand, the size of a hazelnut. I looked at this with the eye of my soul and thought:  ‘What is this?’ And this is the answer that came to me: ‘It is all that is made.Julian of Norwich


Hold a hazelnut up to your eyes 

as a lens for seeing through, 

then wake to a katydid and say its name. 

Stand in a room and stare at the wall, 

then ask yourself what exists between 

you and the wall. These are the ways 

for seeing the distillation that turns 

your blood to the color of a maple leaf 

in autumn. Know each living 

and inanimate thing as a prescription 

for “seeing blindness,” then see

in blindness how suddenly visible 

are the things you couldn’t see before 

when you were only seeing. Behold, 

therefore, how mystifying is the world 

and also risible, no matter how ugly

or deadly: a bobfish here, a viper there. 

Hear how they cry in silence, as if silence, 

too, were a word stripped of sound, 

so only those who crave the secret 

of the Hand above the dark and bottomless 

waters can see and hear the Cloud 

that’s also the Palm of the Hand

that passes over the waters. So holy, 

whole, and beguiling is each enormous

tiny thing that when you see them all 

together through the lens of a hazelnut, 

you feel so shriven you speak their names 

in the dark until each thing becomes 

your name as well—mullein, elder, 

pokeweed, elm…; each one a synonym 

for the other, despite their differences; 

such is the blessing of irony in every thing, 

as well as nothing; each name so true 

and therefore original you revel in them, 

including your own, the one you were given, 

no matter how plain or unusual, 

no matter how difficult or riven. 

Such are the notes to the music of being 

that plays each time you carry its tune.   

Copyright 2020 Chard DeNiord

Chard deNiord is the author of many books including In My Unknowing (Pitt, 2020). He lives in Vermont.

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