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

27 August 2010

Letters from the Outside, #11

Autumn coming through the windows; you feel the same stirring the geese and butterflies must, some magnetic equatorial pull. A sense of fermenting sets in -- that blooming winesap smell that makes you think of apples and fire. I walk, and break the silence that way, a work up to birth. Dogs divine invisible deer trails, trickles of musk and pelt and meadows elsewhere, deep in the dappled waning wood. Hauling and stacking the maple seems entirely apropos.
Tortoiseshell congregation of cattle, outer tatting of calves, communal industry of tails. They are the picture of late summer, finishing off in the wildflowers and the tall grass with the sweetwater creek running through. Red apples in the valley and green walnuts on the ground. I watch a hawk circle from between glossy green branches of a chestnut stand where I stop and turn around. I look away and then theres two, describing the sensual curves of a thermal, seeking with extraordinary eyes for blood and flesh in the open fields below. The raptors are always with us here, and we watch the story that is the story of the friction of energy generating the arc of each star, the brightness and longevity of every spark, we watch the story tell itself generations over, in the sky or in our small wild spaces, those of us called to witness those sacred places that offer up to us their solace. We observe the work of instinct, the struggle to live long enough to be born again. Listen to your body, your senses, your seasons. These creatures dont have the perilous luxury of self-consciousness. We are the only animals who seem able to entertain the possibility of there being some unspanable canyon between our flesh and the world and all else in it, the only thread that questions the shuttle, or the loom.

Last sunday high creek water through to the root cellar and the Golden Boy returns, bearing marshall amps and leopard heads and a neil postman paperback, for me. there are shallow ponds in the garden, i put together a bouquet that doesnt turn out as well as the ones i give and I suppose thats fitting and how it should be. beans and tomatoes, beans and tomatoes. i bake a cake, and theres folk in the house, they fill the house with some feeling of family, continuity of generations, and out of nerves cook up a platter of squash fritters that no one is prepared to eat. i talk too much, gabbling over the voices, driven forward by a force like an insistent fist behind the bones of your head, like that silver serpentine breastbone expression in donnie darko. I must practice my stillness, my settling breath.
The sky goes cozy, and faces return to the clouds. Excellent walking weather, weather I dont feel I need to get away from, and that quality of light, of fire transmuted to gold and everything begins to separate itself into earth, and sweetness. After awhile I fall into that effortless human stride, my thread unquestioning, and watch myself wondering over waterfalls, apple trees and elephants.
The house and grounds dry out. Walking in the world is a pleasure, that wonderful saturation of the senses that autumn is. Your birthday is coming; as one born into the season, Im sure you understand.

My sign today is a woman underwater, rising. I read an article describing “30 Joys of Living.” And I tried to name the joy revealed through each activity, like naming colors. The article was thoughtful and well-written and often offered the answer in its own text. To wit: #1, “Sleeping In On a Rainy Day,” contains the very word Sanctuary, and thats the essence of that particular joy, that singular sense of safety that allows even the central twist of ourselves to unwind, breathe deep into the belly, and return the hawk to the sky, the whale to the water, the self to the one.
Theres no other way I could say these things I feel, the way my spirit is reflected on the surface of the world. These are my days, their impact upon my awareness of my life as a “patient, willing descent into the grass,” a nearly effortless tumble of words, what I get down here is only an excerpt of the running commentary ive lived with all my life. I apologize if things get too purple around here, but its the voice of my heart, all I have to share, the voice ive sabotaged with abuse and neglect for decades, a shadow of the light I was gifted with upon arrival, and in this late hour I tend what embers left. I appreciate your forbearance. I only attempt to offer some small sliver of my natural experience to you, to make an offering to your wild, beautiful heart while it works, and waits, while we all work and wait for your return. 

"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)