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

03 August 2010

Letters from the Outside, #4

"Key examined his friend for a moment over the top of his glass, the bitter beer wonderful in his mouth.  It was a privilege to sit like this in a restaurant booth and know that soon the food would come.  It was good to have a chair with a back, and he leaned back now."

Lammas.  baked bread, canned pickles, still tweaking the recipe the last batch came out pretty but non-committal i attempt british pickle, cider vinegar and brown sugar, which makes me want to cook the whole damn thing down into some sweet ploughmans chutney.  but cucumbers dont cook down.  danced around the living room to yonder mountains hog potato.  one town over hunting dogs and a walk the ghost roads there;  puss-in-boots, the boy who would be tom bombadil.  next to the brown house with the sapling growing through the side patio and the gently swaying rain gutters is the canteloupe colored victorian covered in creeper original windows wrap around porch carriagehouse behind, and next to that is the fifties ranch house corner lot with diagonally mown lawn edged in mathematical regiments of leggy begonias each allotted its 64 square inches of mulch.   theres graveside pompom resin american flags and one shalom. walking past the old mill house blanked out as per on the familiar slopes, the rim of the bowl of this town in which we were married, feet in the creek and bagpipes and the sound of water. 

"I'm not sure we want to play god with the rabbit tribes."

Whats in the Collection Plate today? Eggplant, acorns, dried dill seedhead. Reminded once again how dependent my state of mind is on my walking. Saw the ripening milkweed resemble culinary asian gourds and I receive my first acorn. Fairy sulphurs sip rainwater from little bowls in the road made from a doe running. The miraculous engineering of a hickory nut. For a moment I feel entirely well. The whole day is a gift. Then I come home am struck suddenly sick, panic sick, and I wonder if its my appendix bursting or my kidneys failing and all I can do is lie down with Five Skies and some totally synchronic shaman drumming on itunes and im up and smiling in no time. Blessed Be.
Five Skies was a breakthrough every page but the last one. Its been a long time since ive been so hypnotized by a book, and the end was a rude awakening. Or maybe I just didnt get it. C'est amour.
You know its gonna be a hot one when the cicadas are singing at nine in the morning. Dog tribes manning stations in front of the shopfan. After a brief Andrew Bird vacation during which I sip cold lemonade from a mason pint jar and gaze intently on the new oak tree in my driveway, I go out to pick beans.  Beans will be better tomorrow, and now the cucumber is failing to thrive.  caveat emptor, no guarantees.

"Now all you need is some fried chicken and some napkins."
"Wine, glasses, silverware, pasta salad, salt and pepper, brownies."
"I don't like wine."
"It's not about you."

Space/Time stretches out in all directions an expanding Indras Net of suchness burst apart in infinity primeval. Ten-fifteen on a tuesday morning and the world reflects back an empty place. Im feeling overwhelmed. Cowboy says because it is august and I always feel this way in august.  The itunes Synchronicity machine plays Desolation Row.

"Rabbits fled in every direction, stopping, returning, many seeking shelter under the truck itself."

So I suppose today I steel myself to wrestle the cultivation angels. Theres velvet dock in the garlic bed and What About That Second Sowing...Today, the slow motion free-fall of existentialism whispers into the abyss: is it awareness or over-compensation? Top-shelf summer day otherwise, made a german potato salad and got halfway through a banana bread before I realized the bananas I had squirreled away in the freezer for just such an occasion had been there long enough to petrify, loose leathery skins sheathing a dry stalk of bone. I am overcome with sloth, and retreat into printed matter.

I resume The Goldbug Variations. Its fiction for genetic chemists, and I can follow only a little better than in Five Skies when they were describing the architecture and construction of an enormous ramp. And Im far enough away from it I can ask what I was supposed to understand. What story was the writer trying to tell? Definitely something about the illusion of fixed identities. Husband, brother, thief (entirely andro-centric piece of writing, this), that when these roles are fed with the I Am of Life-energy it becomes cataclysmic for the soul to sacrifice them, but that sacrifice is sometimes necessary to know, even for a second of shock and surprise, who we really are. 

Something is making the tomatoes sick. The emerging panic feels like far surf behind my breastbone.
I can only cut away so much before the center will not hold. Thats the lesson here, I suppose.

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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)