Weekend Meditation: A Poem for Independence Day

Weekend Meditation: A Poem for Independence Day

Dana Velden
Jul 4, 2010

Song of the Taste
by Gary Snyder

Eating the living germs of grasses
Eating the ova of large birds

the fleshy sweetness packed
around the sperm of swaying trees

The muscles of the flanks and thighs of
soft-voiced cows
the bounce in the lamb's leap
the swish in the ox's tail

Eating roots grown swoll
inside the soil

Drawing on life of living
clustered points of light spun
out of space
hidden in the grape.

Eating each other's seed
ah, each other.

Kissing the lover in the mouth of bread:
lip to lip.

It's a great thing to recognize our independence today and celebrate freedom. But at the same time, it's also important to reflect on the many ways we are dependent and interdependent. In particular, the food that we eat, and where it is from and how it gets to us, is worth considering, for food is fundamental to life. Or, as it is pointed out in Gary Snyder's poem, food often is life.

I offer this poem today because it celebrates the intimacy of eating and reminds me of my dependence on other forms of life. It's good to reflect on this and consider all the ways I can respond wisely and responsibly to this lovely, essential entanglement. Ironically, freedom, like everything, often needs some containment to be truly appreciated, and rarely comes without responsibility.

As the celebratory fireworks boom and glimmer tonight, oil continues to spill from a hole in the bottom of the ocean, and a dark, karmic stain poisons the very waters that feed us. What is our wisest response to this and where will the courage and fortitude to act on this wisdom come from? Which lover's mouth will we chose to kiss, lip to lip?

Gary Snyder's poem can be found in his book Regarding Wave, available at Amazon for $14.00

Related: Weekend Meditation: Interdependency

(Image: Dana Velden)

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