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

05 August 2010

Letters from the Outside, #5

I quit on The Variations. The book built on a foundation I had no idea how to approach. So I make a french-press of coffee and start Edgar Sawtelle which also did not get me at hello, but ill give it a hundred pages. It gets darker and more oppressive as the afternoon wears on, so we retreat to the nest and the fan and the coffee and books. By the end of the day I was three-hundred pages into Edgar Sawtelle, an easy reader, not wild about the text, but its a fine story and a quick read and you cant win them all.
Its Early Blight, a disease of humidity, and to read about it drives my rabbit heart into a panic you should hear the syntax on this the despair it inspires, air-borne earth-dwelling fungus making black bones of blooms. O yonder lighthouse of baking soda wisdom mixed with water and oil a peaceful white alchemy to heal enfestered demons returning them to the Good Green Fold, lets hope so. The cucumbers going under also, its the ludovico treatment for Chauncey Gardiner I feel like I need a vorpal blade (snicker-snack!). Just another symptom of a weird summer all the proportions are off everything full of stones at the edge of exhaustion. The feeling of facade. But man, these shoes. I could walk a million miles. I find myself striding. And in those moments in that golden zone, I inhabit my body and by direct extension the world. The roadsides are especially lovely now, chicory, queen anne, centaurea, birdsfoot, wild sweetpea, theyre spring pastels ripened and wiser.

Early in the 300's it grabs me. The small-town dry-goods oracle says her sooth and I notice im grinding my teeth. Its a Hamlet story, with dogs. Thirty pages after that I realize, oh man, Hamlets a tragedy.
But hes painting pictures in the froth and I cant look away. And then I realize im avoiding the book, because when its done itll be over, ill have read it. So I go get eggs from the mennonite, check my email, make hummingbird food, fiddle with the tumblr, consider which book on the shelf I should read next. They called Edgar a coming of age novel, so im assuming he survives his age, despite the Hamlet bloodbath precedent. And I hope all the dogs make it. I cant take it in a movie if the dog dies. Its unbearable.
Well, I finished the book and at least the dogs dont die. So until 2666 weighs down the mailbox, I picked up Discovery of Heaven which I had abandoned at the 200 mark but now seems entirely readable. There is a pile of these next to the bed, spread open like dead birds, awaiting resurrection.

Picking beans has become fraught. After the initial qualmy sense of hunting them subsides, the doomsday dialectic begins. Are they too young? If I wait another day will they have already gone over? Learning I should give the entire patch a cursory once over to get perspective. You dont end up picking half a bucket of adolescents and leaving the primes to over ripen. But the gardens got me qualmy anyway, this blight, the canker in my bud, the cucumbers annihilated, even the tomato out of town on the garden gate exhibits the heart-dropping pox. And you look around at the others, the yellow pears and peacevines and you can breathe again, as long as you forget. So tonight more under the blade and application of a hopeful homebrew. And I think you said something about not being a tomato person, but growing a garden is living a life. Its the souls work in microcosm. And for me its also one of the only things ive ever done with any modicum of success. And im skitish and squirrelly (did I tell you squirrels are solitary creatures?) but in my garden ive been able to be present and at ease, and all I want is to be out there with the lavender and the sunflowers and the sage and maybe crouch there in the straw in the shadow of a miraculous lifeform and freely it offers to me the fruit of its time and as a breeze comes up I bring it into me smiling, deep breathing, face to the sun. this is the life I want to live. A life of union and nourishment, cycles and mindfulness.

A clear night with sweet wind that swept through the room and a morning with small rain and high sun at noon. I reread the Hopi Prophecy, the next logical step after my encounter with Blight. And its not that im afraid of the end of the world, its that I want enough time to learn my lessons. Every day I feel like im only just now opening my eyes. That ive been distracted my whole life, an easy mark, and I have half the time now I was originally given, but I have Now.

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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)