Monday, June 25, 2007


“The origin of the map is lost to history.”

“For years I had been the greyhound chasing the rabbit of permanent solutions.” (37, Paul Hawken)

“The history of life on earth has been a history of interaction between living things and their surroundings.” (16, Rachel Carson)

A woman named Sarah reluctantly accepted the idea that came to her for the millionth time – she could save only herself. Why reluctantly? She wondered. It was as though each time the thought came, it came with the roll that made the hill she tumbled down as a little girl, gathering clover. Or it came with the pebbles she saw on the drive ground into glass by the tires of the car she rode in. The sky was bright with clouds and shattered with sun. Leaves from every tree fluttered in her, and they felt like butterflies. With each moment the thought of renewal, of rising from the yeast of Earth, of the groundwater always on the move, rose in her until she felt the sky itself inside her. Sometimes the thought came as a dream, and she felt tiny bones break and blood form, feathers rustle. Speckled eggs rested in nests, watched over, and heartbeats began. With wings to fly, she floated through history, stepped through battlefields made of grass and sometimes four walls, and the throat of history opened with its eyes for her, the yawn and groan and laughter of all voices calling out to be heard. The sharp voices were like swords. When she hung her head, she saw her feet webbed, she counted coins, she knew the hemp that made the ropes, the cloth that formed the sweeping sails. Overland, over the endless sea which tossed and turned, her organs and entrails, every cell, felt its journey through time, finding the poetry and pain in birth, the perfection like a song in each death. Was she ever alone? There was no time without this thought of spring eternal, the ground water always on the move. Poisoning one spring poisons all. The mind must know how it moves and changes, through shadows and bright sun, with the groundwater moving so deep and far.

Reluctantly, it seemed, because somehow the lingering sense of loss hung on to her shoes, her feet, her joints, and when she slept, her heart seemed to open like an accordion. She awoke on a raft in bright sun, gentle waves rippling into a past and future beyond her horizon. No alarm clock needed, time clicked away while caves opened, rocks started avalanches, coral reefs formed. Reluctance turns to liquid crystal, glittering, even with twisting roots.

A boy she remembers touched her like she was something new, a first wonder. Another’s voice came to her like the wind, whispering, whistling, humming, even as a metronome, sweet as strings. The man he became had eyes that welcomed the world in – she saw him in cabins deep in woods, scribbling on pads, whittling. Wood smells, shavings, branches were strong, then switched to steel girders blinding with sun as they turn on a cable, strong as a lullaby. Plate glass, concrete, stone embedded with ground glass and more, the elements surround him, planed differently than what he remembers. Then the sister she remembers, the echo of love which made her lean into the dance with her eyes closed as if she could scarcely believe what she held, this simple beauty of a moment when such a homecoming held together. She remembered, then, what another friend said, with that wish in her voice – My mother, my husband, never there to just hold me and say, Everything will be alright. Sarah’s own mother, a French aristocrat a few generations removed, would wave her silk scarf and say, Ah, life is much more than a dream.

The wounds we hold within us heal, cell by cell, thought by thought, love easing the skin together. She will pay tribute, plant a flag along the way, note the garden path, cry when she feels the heartache that lingers through time, looking for the History of Everything. It’s a red book, and very useful. The pages are blank, and each thought fills them with feeling. Ink spills over like water and runs like a river into holding ponds while we study causes and effects. She has the book of life always ready now, by the piano, or beneath the tree branches that hang heavy. The alphabet of life is always ready to be read.

Each day she drives, her car windows down, and the green and heat bring the world home to her. As her friend cut flowers and gathered them into bouquets, she went to a place inside with a meadow which held memories of every friend, some forever fresh.

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