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

23 June 2012

Letters from the Outside, #60

 A blush on the strawberries. I take advantage of the wet weather to pull some tall grass out from behind the Roses. Eventually theyll get tucked in with pennysaver pages and hay flakes, but its a start. Its easier and more effective to hoe on a hot day through the encroaching waves of bitty little weeds but the big brave redroot is a joy to pluck. I spied, and thankfully failed to trod upon, one Tulsi seedling. Blessed Be.

 The corn rises every day, and everything Ive planted out has settled in, even the tiny Tomatoes hold their ground. Surprise reseeded squash flourishes in that delightful upright parasol way of it own, the pumpkin all accounted for. Beans and cucumbers in, lettuce red-speckled and joyful in their beds. But we could use a string of good hot days, dry things out, encourage these little spirits to reach for the Sun.

 Two men on the wayside, older, t-shirts and toddler bellies, practicing plein-air painting on a grassy pasture of sheep.

  Zuzu and Ratnik and I, some atomic triumvirate radiating light down the boulevard of parallel memory. the crazys kept me young, my greek boss from the diner I worked at almost twenty years ago (and hadnt been to since) recognizes me at once and says, “You look the same. How is it you look the same?” We make friends with the winsome young Buddha hipster behind the counter of the only sanity left on this old main drag and some woman is talking about armadillos and leprosy and he tells me about cuttlefish, and ive seen the same program where the creature changes color and slides its large, marvelous form between two panes of glass, inches apart. The Iraqui bodega owner skyping, carding me for cigarettes, and upon discovering my age, exclaims, “I hope I look as good as you do when Im your age!”

  A little lawn of strawberries at the edge of a waning metropolis, behind a house held down by tides of fabric and camp, magical old toys, and a Herkimer Diamond the size of my head, tucked in between the DPW sand and gravel barns and the freeway. A Zen funeral, the incense and the gongs and the chanting, people we havent seen in twenty-two years, one man from back then has lived his life in Palestine, Afghanistan, Darfur, some kind of cultural liaison, organized the reconstruction of twenty-three Indonesian villages after the tsunami. He drank iced tea out of my mason jar standing there in the little neighborhood we haunted when we were kids and spit the ice cube back into the drink. A first for me. Tall and broad and wild-eyed, looming over me and laughing as loud as I do.

 The whole weekends been beautiful and surreal, the drive back from breakfast in the '57 bel aire and I dont even like those cars but this thing is cream and grey and mint condition and plays “Beyond the Sea” and I give Zuzu the vulture feathers I was finally offered by nothing short of karmic circumstance. My vehicles been parked in the sun for a few days, and the pendant collage of a rearview finally separated from the windshield. Time for a change, time for letting go, dont look back. I take the weight of years off the neck of that reflective sentry like the yoke off a plow mule and with a little lock-tite, were good to go. Forward.

 The garden is starting to ratchet up, but I can tell where the soil needs amending, where its still clay, wet or dry, and I get in in my head to go out in the late, low dusk with the bats and the fireflies and put a dent in the pigweed and purslane that sprawl between the tomatoes where there isnt any straw. I see the difference the little compost I harvested made on the carrots. The peas are gestating. The volunteer squash is a wonder.

  The beans are up, as are the cucumber, beets, broccoli, cabbage and corn. My last ditch effort at germinating Sunflowers seems to have been okayed with the Earth. I plant out the Cleome seeds, late started, find more Tulsi and circle them with little stones, to catch my eye and prevent my lumbering from releasing their sweet, wild scent unintentionally underfoot. But some of that ground is so hard ive a blister in the center of my hand from trying to drive the trowel under the roots, to make them easier to pull.

 I look forward to all this a month or so from now, the corn forming those cool, rustling tunnels, tomatoes on the vine. Roasted beets. Whatever Sunflowers had the strength to break through. Marigold, Cleome and Calendula, the sweet nostalgic scent of the airy umbrels of dill, picking beans in the hottest part of the day. The pumpkins are grand. Just twelve bales of straw and ten more tons of horse manure this summer, and we might get somewhere next year.

 The nights have been lovely and clear, the stars closer every year. Its been such a slow revolution, but like the man said, it all seems so well timed. What great changes happened so quietly, how my life bloomed during the long dark.

 Tending this garden is some kind of reminder that moving toward the harvest of september brings you closer home.

"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)