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

30 November 2010

 Letters from the Outside, #30

It seems a glorious march day, in the thrust of the thaw, except theres no ragged hold-outs of snow in the shadow of the trees. The south wind is warm and wet and the sound of the woods tells me ill shortly be wetter. The road is a leopard slug. The dogs and I revel in the smell, even the smell of spring, the wet earth. I stand here in gentle rain, in no fetter but of my own devising, the dogs wet and wondering why the wait, and I dedicate this feeling of quiet grace to you. I take up again with Sitting and Stretching, and extra walks, even when it rains. This time of year im more than willing to release myself from the bonds of my body, so living deeper into it helps maintain the fragile attachment until Spring restores my fiercer dedication to living. The cars hiss close and hard going by, and it drives the dogs bonkers, who dont like them much anyway. The sound of bullets is everywhere now, deep hoof tracks in the damp sand by the side of the road, the deer so freaked out theyre driven from the heart of their home to the fringes by the hard scars where the alien anti-creatures kill but do not eat them. I am grateful for canny hoof-folk around here, thats its few and far between the buzzard pickings for this road. The woodpeckers and the jays raise their wild cries beating branch to branch a blur of bright blue or the broad black wingspan of the woodpecker, Picus, with the white slashes. Cardinal and Spruce and Jay are the colors of this season.

I tend the fire, bake hot milk cake and cornbread, paint my Zuzu a letter, send her the little videos of my day, T. on the trampoline in tinted swim goggles which he wore onto the bus in the morning, rain on water by the wayside. We stopped in front of the barn at the place to make way for a car coming up over the rise and in the grit was a red stone, human heart shaped, perfect. Wrinkles and cracks on the back draw a fox, a woman walking, a star. It is windy and warm and everything is cast in either high glare or black shadow. The branches of the barren feral apple trees seem sinister in the contrast and the empty pasture has a perfect summer tundra quality, I expect to see an arctic fox in his winter whites loping across from copse to copse, nosing along for mice or the track of a rabbit, headed for a good drink at the creek, one eye on the treeline.

The next day I go out in a pour and come home under the clearest sky in a long time. Thats two in a row. But its been good to walk in the rain, the supersaturated air and your good wool sweater doing its job, the rain rolling across your eyebrows and collecting on the tip of your nose, striding along with the shadow legions the rain makes looking through it as it falls and blows on the wide empty spaces, billowing ghost rags, waves and undulations across the valley floor. The rain is symphonic, and I can hear it drumming on the bare branches of the far hill. Voices carry so clear through the valley, and on windy days its hard to tell from where the cars are coming, and if theyre even on this road or the one over. But the significance hasnt been lost on me, my rainy graveyard grandmother and her cold mist sister calling the spirit of their man back into the Open. I knew it yesterday walking past the place, knew it when I came home and “Saule, Perkons, Daugava” was playing. The man lived a long life, full of lifetimes, shook hands with Adolf and Dwight D., but didnt say much about it, or anything. He was a fine tenor. Grew roses and raspberries and liked to sit in a rowboat and fish. He was always aloof with me. I think kids reminded him of all of his he left behind in the ground across the Ocean. My grandfather had a good run; we should all be so lucky. And now the deathrattle of a bitter ancient bloodfeud in my family, hostilities embroidered onto our bones, poisoned fingers pointed at the funeral of all things, certain cars sliding out of queue to convene with the leather elbowed attorney to see if something cant be done. It was an arctic cold that attended the interment, and I took brief refuge in the blockstone chapel across the path where the gravediggers leaned against the walls like bit parts in a Shakespeare play. I thanked them all for the crucial service they provide and they responded with wide eyes and silence so surmised I, again and as always, had breached some unspoken etiquette. One man looked to his others and back to me. “No ones ever thanked us before,” he said.

This time of year im just hanging on with my fingernails, and the words are few and far between. But you are never far from our hearts and minds, especially now, in the waning of the year, the protracted dark, when we as naked apes huddle together around our hearth fires and are thankful simply for each other. It cannot be too soon you are returned unto the motley rumpus.

"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)