This morning, I caught myself laying two places for breakfast. I put one set of cutlery in front of me and only then did I notice the spare knife and fork still in my hand. It wasn’t until I reached out to put them down opposite me on the table that reality kicked in.
“She’s not here.”
For fifteen years, Chris and I fought and loved and struggled; we are inextricably entwined; there is no part of my life untouched by her spirit. Yet I cannot reach out and take her hand; I cannot hold her in the night; we cannot laugh together, make plans together, talk together, dream together. I cannot call her on the phone to commiserate when something goes wrong, or to celebrate a successful venture. I see her wherever I turn, but she is not here.
I was trying to explain this duality of her presence and absence to my friend Peter Neall. “It’s like that poem by Kabir,” I said. “The one about the clay jug. It contains wonders but sometimes you just want to feel the earthy warmth and soft contours of the clay.”
Peter remembered the poem. We’d come across it together 20 years ago when our friend Jackie Levin incorporated a Robert Bly translation of it in a song on his aptly-named album The Mystery of Love is Greater than the Mystery of Death.
Inside this clay jug there are canyons
and pine mountains, and the maker of
canyons and pine mountains!
All seven oceans are inside, and
hundreds of millions of stars.
The acid that tests gold is there, and
the one who judges jewels.
And the music from the strings
no one touches, and the source of
If you want the truth, I will tell you
the God whom I love is inside.
[Click below to hear Robert Bly and Jackie Levin]