Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances.”

19 July 2010

Letters from the Outside, #1.

In the winter you were a dark loping form behind bare branches, black dreadbag high on the sightline bringing the garbage cans in. Christmas lights on the Grand Veranda. Living next to you in the spring and summer, I got used to the sound of you sneezing, or what I told myself was the sound of you sneezing. You sneezed quite a bit. And it was a comforting sound, a friendly, human sound that assured me you were just over the creek, puttering around, the sound of your life a happy music.

Im a solitary sort, not much for the company of my fellows, so it wasnt that I felt afraid and you reassured me. It was that if I had to endure the proximity of a human neighbor, I was glad it was you.
So a few days before your appeal I was out in the garden and I heard you sneeze. I took this as an excellent omen. But lo, was I disappointed. I dont care for people in general, ***. Im a pacifist and pray that all are fed and peaceful and free, but I find the company of man jangling. Ive always highly regarded your vibe, though; your quiet, your respect. And your absence is loud, and unhappy.
I split for awhile this spring, but came back clearer.

Thought of you heavy in the spring, in your garden with that radical plow. I covet that plow.
By now its the unfurling bud of crescendo here, the tomato plants lush and resonating, cucumber secret society, string beans. I feel like a Mexican when im out there picking beans in the morning. String beans have not evolved to desire harvesting, unlike carrots, say, or apples. You need to look away a lot or else all the lines start to run. We bought a pressure canner for our anniversary this year and can can can can beans. Beets we got burnt sugar roasted smell with yogurt, pyrotechnic sketches of dill, damn photogenic ruby chard I made into an entirely edible pie with olive oil crust but really not worth the work. I ate the hell out of that pie for a few days, and regretted afterward that there was no one out there waiting to bake me another one. Collards I havent touched but have every intent of eating. In stead of collards next year ill grow kale, for a change. I sorta feel now that if im not willing to eat them boiled to death with pork and an extraordinary amount of salt, theyre almost not worth growing. Cute little dutch market cabbage and broccoli. Strawberries, bent ponderous rarities that I watch out of the corner of my eye so as not to scare the bright pioneers into rot, held in my palm under the maple tree in that wooden chair the dead german from the next town over made, held in my palm under my nose and the breeze through the cottonwood that I watch every summer up there in the sway of green heads and silver bellies, and me just breathing. Some of my favorite smells are coffee outside on a cold day, tomatoes and strawberries sunwarm, sometimes wed get roadside strawberries in a big paper bag and id stick my head in. and tomatoes. *** was tying up the vines and came in and he smelled like tomatoes, like children coming in from the snow it was that kind of smell.

What else? My sage and lavender bed, I wish you were at summer camp and I could write Dear ***, Hi! How are you? Here are some sage leaves from my garden next door. It smells really good, I think, and makes these cool purple flowers the bees love. Hope you are having fun. I miss you.
Its a bad year for sunflowers, man. These are some vertically challenged sunflowers. Well start manuring from that end of the garden this fall, to make sure it gets fed. I tell myself that its a totally new garden, some of it was lawn only a year or so ago, the rest all of three years, that soil is something you build over time, and im building it. But I grew sunflowers that first year that Rocked the House. On the bright side, when I weeded the front sunflowers I found a swath of Tulsi and some cleome. My plan it to just keep it fed and every year plant a few different sunflowers in bare patches and eventually ill have something of a self-sustaining pleasure situation. Got mexican sunflower, Tithonia, in there too. Tithonias a big favorite with me. Just these glorious orange Midsummer Faerie Headdress flowers. Cleome are galactic, architectural, full of empty space. My Delphinium was awesome. Echinacea outstanding in the dry heat. The hollyhock reseeded to my amazement, and the Elecampane I dug up from the empty lot down the street two summers ago is giving me its first flower.

I see the Process, I believe in the Process, and the strength it affords me is called Patience.

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Blessed Be.

"And if the question were asked: What is more real, the mundane or the sublime? most would hesitate before they gave an answer. On the one side, details: say, the aftermath of a breakfast, dirty chipped plates in the sink, their rims encrusted with egg yolk. Against this, the unnameable: small aching heart with boasts, what can you know? Outside the cage of everything we ever heard or saw, beyond, outside, above, there lies the real, hiding as long as we shall live, there stretch and trail the millions of names of God burning across the eons. When all through this our end will come before we even know the names of us.

For many the egg yolk prevails." -L.M.

"Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well."

"The perfection of the Absolute where all Becoming stops and pure Being, immutable, timeless, unchanging, hangs forever like a ripe peach upon the bough." -E.A.

"...and the whole incident was incredibly frazzling and angst-rod and filled almost a whole mead notebook and is here recounted in only its barest psycho-skeletal outline." -D.F.W.

"At the top of the mountain, we are all snow leopards." -H.S.T.

"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." -D.T.
"Cometh a voice: My children, hear; From the crowded street and the close-packed mart I call you back with my message clear, back to my lap and my loving heart. Long have ye left me, journeying on by range and river and grassy plain, to the teeming towns where the rest have gone - come back, come back to my arms again. So shall ye lose the foolish needs that gnaw your souls; and my touch shall serve to heal the fretted nerve. Treading the turf that ye once loved well, instead of the stones of the city's street, ye shall hear nor din nor drunken yell, but the wind that croons in the ripening wheat. I that am old have seen long since ruin of palaces made with hands for the soldier-king and the priest and prince whose cities crumble in desert sands. But still the furrow in many a clime yields softly under the ploughman's feet; still there is seeding and harvest time, and the wind still croons in the ripening wheat. The works of man are but little worth; for a time they stand, for a space endure; but turn once more to your mother - Earth, my gifts are gracious, my works are sure. Instead of the strife and pain I give you peace, with its blessing sweet. Come back, come back to my arms again, for the wind still croons in the ripening wheat."
-John Sandes, The Earth-Mother (excerpt, 1918)