A Wild Night with Emily Dickinson

Cardinals decorate the maple tree: playing at mating, as if there were any other kind of play. The light this morning is soft, summerish, and the raspberry bushes – which are skeletal and exhausted – blush briefly soft red. Gold crocuses illuminate the matted grass. Many cups of tea go into making morning what it is and I am only at the beginning of understanding what it means to be tangential, forgettable, easy. Grief is a flavor of experience, joy is a flavor of experience, and the collective is just that which cannot otherwise be presently embodied, i.e., the space in the air where the cardinal is cannot also be the space in the air where the rain puddle is. It’s okay if the lessons seem to go on a long time, it’s okay to die confused. Looking up from the revised sentence – which is a new sentence – one sees the cardinals are gone, as if the maple tree were exhausted after a wild night with Emily Dickinson. Nobody knows what’s next. Nobody knows the absence of next. Jesus finished his propositional gesture two thousand years ago: sunlight falls through an ever-opening sky. Don’t say “now what?” Every “but” betrays the gift by pretending some gap exists between the one who gives and the one who receives. There are birds and flowers everywhere. The seed you are has wings.

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A Curious Development

In anticipation of tomorrow’s heat (fuck the Republicans and their climate change denial and obfuscation) I start shoveling horse shit – which is really shit, straw, fall leaves, onions, squash, coffee grounds, tea bags, banana peels, orange peels and garlic – into a more compact – more compostable –  pile. My forearms ache, my back aches but my soul does not ache. Chrisoula works on taxes at the dining room table, later reading case files for upcoming appeals. The kids test the fence at regular intervals, groom both horses who are prone to rolling this time of year, then sit in the shadow of the outside oven and talk about their grandmother. Why am I angry and not empathetic? Why am I devoted to explicating difficult texts? Turkey vultures soar overhead, their vast shadows occasionally crossing the ground before me. Oh Icarus, someone was supposed to tell you your ideas about flying were idiotic. It’s so thrilling to be alive, it’s such a curious development. Eventually I’ll rake the shit into long lines about a foot high, three feet wide and turn them regularly for the chickens. Earlier the soft folds of cumulus overhead were like a vulva, the faint stratus trailing after it like semen (glistening at the base of her thumb, visible tracing circles on my chest). We are what is happening: this is what is happening. “Look, Dad,” Fionnghuala says. I follow the line implied by her finger all the way to five gold crocuses blooming by the backyard porch. And begin.

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The Feeling of Being Lost

Some drives go okay, some don’t. This one didn’t. Got all the way into Halifax, Vermont before seeing it and had to do a three-point turn right there at the border. The rivers are moving fast, it’s spring, the pine trees on the snowy banks dip low-hanging branches in the currents. The orchards are clearing deadfall, pushing it into huge piles for burning, the horses are unhappy in their muddy turnouts, the emu farm on Route 112 is closed. Two days of rain, some of it hard, then a little sun. The man who can’t drink coffee anymore doesn’t, but misses it, and so the drive is tinged with an unscratchable itch. Who said you can’t get there from here? Giant chunks of schist jut from the soil, the pastures are mostly hills save close to the many rivers where they flatten out like little prairies, and everywhere you look a different horizon stares right back at you. Is the mirror asking for trouble or are we finding ourselves as we really truly are after all? Someone made a movie once, it didn’t look like this, but the feeling of being lost was the same. After a while you find the missed turn and take it, end up scratching a dog’s head in the driveway and then standing in some stranger’s kitchen talking about how your father hit you, and sometimes it was okay, and sometimes it wasn’t, and then what? Then it’s time to go. Now it’s time to go.

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