O Again 4. O Clavis O Key, O keys. I lost my Irish grandfather’s keys on a sidewalk in the snow. O necklace of skeleton keys. But I have his broken clock, and photos of his children glued in a celluloid box. O keys, lost keys. I was afraid of Opa who spoke Russian and German and Polish but whose English was remote. I have his silver and porcelain wine tray painted with plums. O lost Clavis, O Radix lost.
O Again: 3. O Radix
O AGAIN 3. O Radix (misread) O Root. Before coffee, I read: Root of Jesse standing as a sign among the peonies. Huh. People, not peonies. Had peonies once. Tried to do them in because botrytis blight. They kept sprouting. Radix, root, radish, etc. If you plant a grafted apple tree and bury the graft by mistake, the original takes over. Radical thought.
O AGAIN: 2. Adonai Reversed
O AGAIN 2. O Adonai (reversed) Lord of Might. O my, how we crave one. Somebody to fix it all up. Do It Yourself is awful hard work. Giver of Law. So much simpler to follow along. Obey the rules. Do what we’re told. Lord of Might? Jesus. Consider the trees around here: every year they burn and are not consumed.
THE ANTIPHONS RETURN: 1. O Sapienta
O Again 1. O Sapienta (Fifty Years later) Holy Wisdom sets things in order. If there is an order to set. If there are indeed things. Moreover, what does it mean to be wise? Premise: Holy Wisdom might show us the path of knowledge. Why would that be a path and how, precisely, might it be revealed? Furthermore, what can be known? O Sapienta: Holy Wisdom. A good night to conceive a philosopher on an unheated waterbed in a cold bedroom. We didn’t have a clue.
DECEMBER ZUIHITSU It is easier to awaken in the dark of winter. The body opens slowly, warms slowly with Qi Gong practice, with hot coffee. The summer body is restless, quick, easily exhausted. Why must my study be the coldest room in the house? From the windows I watch bare ash trees and brushy hemlock trees moving slightly in the North wind, dark against a silver sky. Sometimes a feeling of desperation. The weather, the news. The way my hips still hurt. Driving into town we pass a herd of young horses racing across a frosty pasture. We agree that it must be a wonderful thing to be a young horse on a cold morning. On weekends, the woman who calls herself The Lady From the Gravel Company sells Christmas trees for her son who is out West hunting deer. She hopes he doesn’t get one, she told me, because already she has two deer and a bear in her freezer. The dog wants to eat her scraps on the living room carpet. The old cat wants the young cat’s food. The young cat wants the old cat’s food. My husband wants cooked chicken thighs. I want Rasta Pasta. At supper, I find the jalapeño pepper that had disappeared into the stew. Water does not put out that kind of fire. Strange bedside fellows: Neil Gaiman and Barbara Pym. I expect she could write about him: a mysterious man with tousled hair, much admired by excellent women. I cannot imagine what he could write about her. The dog must go out in the dark again to see if the fiend who hides under the steps is still hiding under the steps and to see if every deer track down the driveway was made by the same deer. I must go out with her to see the moon and to listen for the owl who sits in the oak tree behind the house.
JUST ASKING Why do you keep feeding us? We don’t give you much: a few bones, some onion skins, now and then something like a token of pinecones and twigs or a lanyard we made at camp. You’re tired, I know. You look tired. And old. All those wrinkles and cracks. And you don’t smell so good, not any more, not even after the rain. What happened to your jewels— those little birds and buggy things? Are you letting yourself go? I wouldn’t blame you since we don’t seem to care much about how you look, or what you do. And where would you go? And when we’re hungry, where will we? Thanksgiving, 2022
October Field Journal: Salisbury Kame Terraces
OCTOBER FIELD JOURNAL Kame Terraces, Salisbury Once rivers limined the stone mountains with gravel and sand. Below, the ice-blocked valley; across, the wild flow of melt. Three kinds of oak. Witch hazel and teaberry undergrow the logged-over never-plowed land. So much time, yet not enough time. I want to be like a river on the edge of the ice— letting go as I can, holding whatever I must hold. I know "limined" wasn't a word. It is now.
OCTOBER 13 The leaves are scattering and so too the people who came to see them, their glorious impermanence. For a little while, until the snow, I don’t have to wait in lines at shops or cafés. I don’t have to remember to stop and gaze myself: those red maples, sugar maples, popples gold against the evergreens. Oaks will come later, but no one comes here to see the somber oaks. For a little while there is no demanding, just the ease of amber and gray, the silence of these late days, the beauty of this coming dark.
SEPTEMBER FIELD JOURNAL: KINGSLAND BAY
SEPTEMBER FIELD JOURNAL
What is your name and what
do you know and what
together can we do?
Folded, weighted, shifting,
broken and remade,
the layers hidden underneath.
And where on this map
of shifting stone
do we belong?
Come walk and name
this place, this very place,
this weather and these trees:
the edge edged with white cedar
—and the rain.
And when the blowdown comes
may we trust
our own entangled roots?
This one from the milkweed growing against
all odds on the edge of my driveway or
one of those rescued from a predator
in Polly’s patch. Remember the story
that one might change the weather of the world?
Maybe not the movement of its wings.
Maybe just the vision: that brave orange
and black animal, fragile against a leaf,
blown across the sky, what it’s like to change
that way, and who knows who, seeing it, will change?