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

28 August 2011

Letters from the Outside, #49

Chicken roasting, Lammas bread rising, I sit on the threshold after a fruitful, feverish Zuzu Birthday Project session and listen to the lovely sound of our garden drinking in the steady, gentle rain. Mad weather, oscillating wildly between sunshine and shadow, thunder rolling around the edge of a cerulean sky buttressed bright with clouds. The days have been full of rain, and the nights cool. So the tomatoes, like the corn at the crossroads, are where july should have found them. And without light or heat, these tropical fruits wont ripen, or grow. The cabbages, however, are flourishing, waxing moons of pleated leaves that catch the night rain in their skirts, and the dew.

Some notes from the road: O.D. On the sidewalk where I started, they strap him to the gurney and stand around the garbage can shooting breeze. Anabaptists headed south for harvest of their own farms, and I change seats after the smell coming off the stubby, rough-handed man across the aisle hits me, and my heavy bag fortuitously fails to detonate a plastic ziploc of spew someone was thoughtful enough to seal. I thought it was really interesting that because of these Plain Folk, who eat slabs of velveeta on generous wedges of iceberg one woman keeps in a old blue suitcase, the bus would not be offering a movie on the overhead screens.

Filthy haunted restrooms where everythings strictly drip-dry. The one driver who took nine or ten swings at backing out of the gate before we moved along into open spaces, curly-headed faun clouds in a sky people are photographing with their phones. The unmolested woods of Sovereign People territory exuding comfort and sanctuary. Border Patrol, dead serious and self-contained, one hand on the gun. The little Amish girl babbles Deutch and licks the windows.

Light on the lake water that comes from a sun, red as a freshly forged nailhead shattering in the cool of the thruway treeline and filling the bus with a steam of darkness. A teen preacher in the seat behind me, whispering scripture and doctrine in a honed, hypnotic liturgy that shrinks the world to the unlikely pair of us and I invoke the names of Lilith and Mary while he spits his chew into a plastic pop bottle.

Seems less a bus station than a disaster relief area, drawn, exhausted people wrapped in tattered blankets, shuffling in slippers, clutching plastic bags of what they managed not to leave behind. Two in the morning a woman and child herded off by tall, blank-faced men in neutral suits into the black-hole anonymity of a witness protection program. Or so im told by a number of these purgatory dwellers, and my own story soon gets back on board and slides quietly away into a greasy neon night. I visibly startle a lanky looming Jamaican with my use of the word, “patois.”

Knoxville the absolute nadir of this 80's Bowery-era add-a-bead haul, if you dont count the smell of the Chattanooga station, which persuaded me to take my chances in the rocketing porta-potty at the back of the bus. A woman performs her morning prayers somewhere behind me, “Thank you, jesus” audible at regular intervals, matter-of-fact. I have not eaten for six-hundred miles and the turkey croissant I eat in a manner reminiscent of hyenas at an impala carcass in Atlanta is nothing short of miraculous. Thank you, jesus.

The kid sitting behind me plays with my seat and clicks his footrest rather dramatically one setting at a time before releasing it to strike with a clang against the base of the chair. He tires of this folly, and contents himself with kicking at the back of it and rocking the entire seat back and forth, those first tentative parries with an stalled vending machine. I read a street sign for Beaver Ruin Road, and know im getting closer to where the Rosemary is a grand Faerie Queen garbed in green needles and flourishing in this climate to the size of foundation shrubbery. Where the Scuppernong arbor is a dappled chapel of serrate leaves on woody vines and the ceiling vibrates with the music of insect friction and the one large garden spider waits in the center of a web three feet across in the corner, shaded and waiting.

There is a Fig tree and Angels Trumpet and a duck so heavy-bred for flesh it cannot fly. Where the sunlight is a tangible thing, atomized lead apron on your skin, and theres a loaf of Sunbeam on every table in every chicken joint in town. Where the muddy rivers glitter with mica and pyrite and theres armadillos now im told, drifting north with climate change, and the lonesome holy feeling of the georgia Pines. Where theres a woman who lives with her dogs and an English Sparrow where we walk the creek split road with a herd of cows retuning home at twilight and the pygmy goats traveling tetherless along the red clay track and I ate good barbeque and behaved badly, desperate for the shibboleths, the Unspoken Rules that only arrive with time, of which I hadnt any. We love you.

17 August 2011

well, here goes.

"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)