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

04 November 2010

Letters from the Outside, #27

November. Pleiades clear and bright in the eastern sky, this new cold night that sweetens the blessing of home. Next mornings sun is a white disk behind the filigree of branches on east hill, the killing frost heavy on the hardy flora, thick rime on the slick leaves like sugared violets. The cattle graze spacious and unmolested across the road from where only the oaks are left with leaves oxblood and leather. I imagine my delight in coming springs sassafras trees, their sweet prehistoric qualities, but theres a balm for right now in the sight of witch hazel, Life Force a winter light through wrinkled filaments spry against the sepia space left by summers deep bright leaves. Wooly congregations of goatsbeard over the creek leading to Avalon. I cant help myself. On the way back past the place I look up and im staring because my mind wont formulate what im seeing, the stubborn succor, suspension of disbelief that what was once is gone. The roses and the little rutted path is now a gravel expanse.

The holidays lumber inexorable toward me. I feel myself turning inward in gentle defense.

Allow me to discuss the houseplants. The houseplants propagate madly and I dont have the social opportunities with which to delegate their lovely lives off to other people. So they pack the east and south exposures, stretching for light and air. Translucent submarine spears of adolescent aloe, crowded as a press of medieval earls at the buffet in their terracotta kingdoms cheek to jowl by the spare arching enthusiasms of spiderplants, the daughters I repotted this spring only now generating slender emissaries from this infinite sisterhood. This summer I thinned the herd of geraniums, some a decade old or more. The scented specimen, the one wedding gift from eleven years ago, not even a leaf spared to start again, sentimentally, for Ts sake. Kept the cutting culled from the Gurdjieff Colony up the hill, the brown-palmed leaves and porcelain painted flowers, the big pink and a few other anonymous ones that never made it outside, late summer they bloomed red balloons in the window, blocking the view, and the ivy variety that tumbles down the side of the parlor window menagerie.

Tiny pots of beloved schlumberga, birds of fire flying from a walking path of thin succulent successions of leaves, leaping feather-wattled swans from some other star, milkmaid angels. Snake plant I unceremoniously stick into empty acres of potting soil, letting the long blades set in the shade of monstera delicosa leaves pressed to the glass like the eager faces of children arrived at play, set like cuckoo eggs in someone elses nest to take root and fly away. The Artemis seedling started in april overwintering indoors, gaining ground for its second summer, I discovered it had rooted through into the pot below, a sign of consciousness, the understanding of opportunity, the will to take it. A jewel of scarlet begonia starting in a votive cup on the sill pinched from the doomed bank of six-pack annuals planted against the house of a friend. I havent kept these in fifteen years, and allow myself again their thick glimmer. The inspiration of one jade lobe that fell onto some potted earth and from invisible wisdom written into its cells called forth its happy Other into this world. The seeking, intelligent tendrils of hoya, their sticky upturned rainforest parasols of pale fuzzy flowers in abundance if only I leave them alone. The nameless one with deep throated purple flowers on long arid stalks and the fragile oxalis, both colors. The english ivy and orchids in the bedroom, the only two fern. My purple queen, my wandering jew, wringing its pendant fingers in angst for a higher perch, personal space. Reconfiguring the crowd beneath her I knocked away several sections and now these require a nursery of their own. Instead, I could compost the ragged and wandering lot and use the extra space for books or turtle stones (never, of course, is the space itself as space ever considered). But these plants stand between me and an encroaching concrete world. The light is not ideal, so most are badly bent to catch what sun they can, and all are dusty. Sometime this week ill dampen a rag and bring them all back to glossy breath, their beautiful faces somehow reflecting my own, for they are only and ever themselves and I have much to learn.

Mares tails and sacred indian symbols in the clouds, they say snow coming. Some kind of orifice or aperture that leads me to the Sri Yantra, the Great Engine, the Womb of the World (please find enclosed). And for me, Peace, Kindness and Creativity are the columns of this temple, the Light and Life Force of Love in this lonesome world.

"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)