A Cloth of Fine Gold by Dorothy Walters

Sample Poems


You may think
that first lit flame
was the ultimate blaze,
the holy fire revealed.

What do you know
of furnaces?
This is a sun that returns
again and again, refining, igniting,
pouring your spirit
through a cloth of delicate gold
until all dross is taken
and you are sweet as
clarified butter
in god/the goddess’ mouth.


What the heart wants
is to follow its true passion,
to lie down with it
near the reeds beside
the river,
to devour it in the caves
between the desert dunes,
to sing its notes
into the morning sky
until even the angels
wake up
and take notice
and look around
for their beloved.


There will be an invitation.
It will not come tied in ribbons
nor a message streaming down
from the sky.

There will be no Roman candles
nor brilliant colors
exploding overhead.

Instead there will be a soft
in your ear,
something in a language
you once knew
and are trying to learn again.

In order to hear it,
you will need to
put down all your packages,
stop everything you are doing
and stand very still
then wait. . .
until something stirs inside.


These poems speak in many voices. Some are clearly of an overtly “spiritual” nature, and the debt to Rumi and other early writers such as Kabir and Mirabai will be obvious. Others are more secular in tone (poems on contemporary poets and artists, as well as nature), and still others are downright oracular, as if they were written by ancient priests or prophets. We poets take whatever gifts may come.

But all are serious in their way, and all are intended
as offerings which give us a larger perspective on how it is possible to live, even to experience rapture itself, in a world where the divine nexus so often seems to be broken.

As for the obviously sacred verses, they unabashedly allude to the connection of human and divine without trying to name the latter or present a fixed belief system. Sometimes the poet even uses the word “god,” but note the term bears no capital. In these passages, I am not speaking of the old god, the thundering patriarch who drove our ancestors near mad with his commandments and interdictions and who even today finds his followers. I am speaking of that other, softer, more hidden reality, who led Rumi to the sweet secrets of his poems, who met St. John in the darkness of night where they consummated their sacred love tryst, who danced with Mirabai on the roads.

This “god” is, of course, also the goddess, for she is beyond gender. She is ultimate expression—the divine presence, the undeniable essence, the pulsating stream of love which informs everything that is, in blessing and joy when we open our hearts sufficiently.

All of us yearn for this holy embrace, to know more intimately the hidden mystery which hovers near. Sometimes we catch glimpses through the door, taste a sip of something a bit ambrosial, smell a whiff of some indefinable perfume. Traces of the Beloved.

At times, however, the transition is more abrupt. An unexpected event, a surprising occurrence triggers an awakening beyond all we have known before. Katherine Anne Porter called such pivotal encounters “the moment which changes everything.” Some years ago I experienced such a moment. For me, it occurred through what is called spontaneous Kundalini awakening, and its consequences have rippled through and shaped my life ever since. It was then that I discovered that the Beloved (the term which mystics so frequently use to express the Divine Presence) was not a metaphor, but a reality, a felt feeling in the blood, and a discovery convincing beyond all textbooks or words.

Union with the Inner Beloved may involve states of rapture unlike anything we experience in our ordinary life. The awakened energies are often quite sensuous in tone, though they are markedly distinct from sexual experiences. They can be intense or gentle and soft, depending on the circumstances. In the early stages, they can be quite dramatic, as the many feeling centers of the body open.

As time passes, the sensations diminish, and ultimately they are more like light playing through the body or perhaps the echo from a peal of distant mountain thunder. The language which poets traditionally use to describe these profound episodes is that of human love. Some suggest that such experience is the end and goal of all spiritual striving, final embrace by Infinite Love.

As all mystics and seekers know, the spiritual journey (like life itself) does not always advance in a fixed, logical progression of say, longing, preparation, and final union. Rather, it shifts back and forth, oscillates between yearning and apparent arrival, often to lead once more to new beginnings and repeated struggle. So with these poems, for they mirror how things really are on the long inward journey.

This book contains both poems of the heart and verses of the mind, for both are needed if we are to discover the resolution we are seeking. This fusion of rapture and thoughtfulness will, I think, bring us to the next stage of our ongoing evolution of consciousness, and transform us and our world.

June, 2008/ San Francisco

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