The Mystery of How

by Carol O'Connor

ALEXANDER CALDER  Little Spider, c. 1940; National Gallery of Art, USA

Thinking about How

Not the what, nor the when, nor even the where,

takes us inside the spaces of ourselves we long to go,

but always the mystery of how. For the how,

born in love, is timeless, holding all ways together.

In the back room of the brain’s anatomy, vision (they say),

is derived, though sight is not seen there; but here is

a deeper seeing which, through the heart’s golden centre,

can become our own particular how of way.

How is a sway, a curve, an alignment,

a current, a swerve that somehow turns

all compasses and sets the movement straight;

a glimpse of God’s soft edges.

How is a fish, bending agile smooth-silver

through the water, is the bird’s supple-slip glide,

flashing revelation of forgotten body sensation;

how is nature taking us home into warm moist earth.

How, can get us out alive; digging through rubble

to rescue those trapped, or how we wear masks,

orbit one another as delicate butterflies, though

desire longs to cling, clutch, hold on for dear life.

Language too, falls down with the when

and the where, even the who eventually succumbs,

unrestricted by myriad impressions, momentum ungoverned;

but the how is speech that pierces our vision.

The how, born in love, is timeless, taking us to the

spaces of silent skies, loosening those devices of

control, a kite dancing up high, its coloured ribbons

signing a way forward. That gaze between us in kindness.