It was as if
while I was driving down a one-lane dirt road
with tall pines on both sides
the landscape had a syntax
similar to that of our language
and as I moved along
a long sentence was being spoken
on the right and another on the left
and I thought
Maybe the landscape
can understand what I say too.
Ahead was a farmhouse
with children playing near the road
so I slowed down
and waved to them.
They were young enough
to smile and wave back.
An elephant herd of storm clouds
trample overhead. The air vibrates
electrically. The wind is rough
as hide scraping my face.
Longhaired rain occludes the pines.
This storm seems personal. We
crouch under the weight of the laden
air, feeling silly to be afraid.
Water comes sideways attacking
the shingles. The skylight drips.
We feel trapped in high surf
and buffeted. When the nickel
moon finally appears dripping
we are as relieved as if an in-
truder had threatened us and
then walked off with a shrug.
“Be a lotus in the pond,” she said, “opening
slowly, no single energy tugging
against another but peacefully,
I couldn’t even touch my toes.
“Feel your quadriceps stretching?” she asked.
Well, something was certainly stretching.
Standing impressively upright, she
raised one leg and placed it against
the other, then lifted her arms and
shook her hands like leaves. “Be a tree,” she said.
I lay on the floor, exhausted.
But to be a lotus in the pond
opening slowly, and very slowly rising–
that I could do.
In the old days telephones were made of
rhinoceros tusk and were big and heavy enough
to be used to fight off an intruder. The telephone
had a special place in the front hallway, a shrine
built into the wall, a niche previously occupied
by the blessed virgin, and when the phone
rang it was serious business. “Hello.” “One if
by land and two if by sea.” “What?” “Unto you
a child is born.” “What?” “What did he say?”
“Something about the Chalmers’ barn.” The
voice was carried by a single strand of bare wire
running from coast to coast, wrapped around a
Coke bottle stuck on a tree branch, dipping low
over the swamp, it was the party line, all your
neighbors in a row, out one ear and in another.
“We have a bad connection, I’m having trouble
Nowadays telephones are made of recycled
plastic bags and have multiplied to the point
where they have become a major nuisance.
The point might ring at you from anywhere, the
car, the bathroom, under the couch cushions…
Everyone hates the telephone. No one uses the
telephone anymore so telephones, out of habit
or boredom or loneliness perhaps, call one
another. “Please leave a message at the tone.”
“I’m sorry, this is a courtesy call. We’ll call back at
a more convenient time. There is no message.”
God wanted to make heaven and the earth is that heaven. Nowhere in the universe there is so much love, life, beauty and peace. Enjoy your stay with the fellow beings-
Its Earth Day/Week\Weekend once again, which can only mean that it is time for a torrent of pecksniffian-esque blog posts and woefully self-serving “talk” beating us upside the head with the benefits of green living. Plant a tree, maybe two? Recycle this and that, munch on some kale and drive a Prius. Lament about our filthy ways, buy an Earth-friendly yoga mat and a 100% recycled content bicycle saddle. Peruse green-themed cycling and yoga magazines, grow your own “herbs“, and swap the old light-bulbs, (that work perfectly fine) for the energy-saving ones because the government said we had to.
With the infinite amount of environmental issues confronting our beautiful planet: Global warming, the increasingly trash filled oceans, deforestation of the Amazon Forest, Monsanto and our insistent overuse of pesticides and herbicides? There are far-reaching global issues for us all to feel terrible about.
I spend a lot, and I mean a lot of time riding dusty gravel roads in and alongside the farmlands here in Nebraska. Nothing troubles me more than seeing the signage of a freshly sprayed field with pesticide and herbicide. Pausing for a moment, beer cans and trash bother me more, but this is a rant for another day. From my humble perspective, these “global” issues seem far too vast even to wrap my simple mind around, much less address and take action on. Its only when we, you and I, pause for a fleeting moment during Earth Day/Week\Weekend long enough to acknowledge the scale of these problems and how long it might take, to take meaningful action. I get discouraged, if not pissed off lamenting these global “problems,” and nothing pisses me off more than seeing Natural Ice beer cans strewn along a 100 mile stretch of gravel road(s).
Allow me if you may, to turn my frustration over to the beautiful and inspiring poet William Blake. Blake once remarked: Don’t think big, think small in his Auguries of Innocence. William Blake goes on to eloquently write that the ability “To see the world in a grain of sand, And Heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.”
It only takes a moment, a deep breath, a gentle heartbeat during one of these rides for me to shift my attention to a simple grain of gravel on the road or a single Black Eyed Susan sprouting in a nearby field. If I look at a kernel of corn in the palm of my hand, snap another bite of a freshly picked wild apple. If I really pay attention to the parts of the world that are right in front of me, right now? I eventually witness everything I was meant to see.
Do something small with me this Earth Day/Week\Weekend. Over time? These small actions grow into something amazing! If you are curious about my “small” project? Please feel free to contact me/leave a comment and I will be more than happy to share. Take care and have a wonderful weekend!
There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they’ve been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.
And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
than the simple, untested surface before.
There’s a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,
as all flesh
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—
And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.
i saw my grandmother hold out
her hand cupping a small offering
of seed to one of the wild sparrows
that frequented the bird bath she
filled with fresh water every day
she stood still
maybe stopped breathing
while the sparrow looked
at her, then the seed
then back as if he was
judging her character
he jumped into her hand
began to eat
a woman holding
a small god
– Richard Vargas