Monday, May 09, 2005

A Separate Peace

It's May Again

I'm over the election. There are a few of you whom I keep in touch with
through this blog, though 'blog' was always a sour way to describe why I
write here. So to you, I'm sorry for the cheap writing that characterized
my political entries this past year. In the face of despair, though,
I lose any capacity I have for eloquence. That said,

It's May again. The city is cool and lush. The pedals from the
everywhere-boughs have come around because it's May again, and that's what
happens after a long winter. And it was a long winter. The windswept
plains of days gone by kind of long, when we talk about illness and
hardship like pioneers, and the quiet subtle despair that seeps deep under
our chapped skin, once the lovely novel of cold has worn thin, has surfaced
and we are hit with it like a breath in an ice cold lake. The day of that
breath is a quiet day, like all of winter, and it comes when a wind
collects and blows the scarf from your neck and tumlts its course beneath
your shirt. Or the Saturday morning when you've slept just a bit too long
and your back aches from three months of huddling through the long nights in
your wombly bed, and the room is dark with the bright winter light of clouds
and the hush of the house--it too has gone to sleep for the winter. Its
creaks and pops have silenced since last spring when it stretched its legs and
arms from the shackle nails and came alive in the heat of a Michigan summer.
Houses like Roethke poems. Trusses like greenhouse roots, studs like shoots
that writhe and make noise as they forge through dirt and seed skins. But
it's May again, and the air smells sweet like many springs before it have
smelled sweet in Michigan.

I bid farewell to winter and welcomed spring last week at Cedar Campus. I
crushed my finger rebuilding Meta, per my covenant of two year's past, when
I heaved a bulb of lake-rounded granite into the water at the end of our
bridge. Overall, the winter storms have been good to Meta, and I found last
week that it is more beautiful than I've ever seen it in its state today.
We were lucky this year because the water level in all of the Lakes rose,
which we hope signals positive slope in the 15-year-or-so cycle of water levels
in the Great Lakes. As a result, Meta is slightly sunken, and the path treads
a gentle slope from the bulwurk (sp?) rocks on the beach to the slighter stones
that pile at the midsection where it slips beneath the surface and runs course towards
the first offshore boulder like a torpedo with a trail of head-sized
rocks. I was delighted to hear a brother from CCF tell me that the previous
summer he took a group of children he was supervising out onto the water road
to their great delight. Some of the new students at Chapter Camp didn't know
the remarkable metaphorical dynamism of a rock bridge and reacted to my
exhortations with Pharesitic skepticism, Sagisitic doubt. I just wanted to
make up those words.

Because it's May again, the summer sun is returning to us, and I've come to
realize this year that I have an inkling to go south and west rather than
north and east. I think this is strange. Particularly because I've
subscribed myself to three years in the epicenter of easterly northerness,
the most north and the most east you can go before you begin kissing moose or
coursing the rocky bays in a wee boat while the big rigs out in the deep water
deplete what's left of the north Atlantic's legendary stock. But west and south. Copland has something to do with it. His orchestral story-telling is folklore,
and lore of folk or any other variety either draws us in or sends us fleeing. Copland's lore draws me in. I wish I had the courage to work for six months
and then work my way through the Plains for another six, as the sun magnifies
the color of the hills and pulls my eyes and heart to the threshold of the
mountains on its continuous westward course. That's the thing about the western
sun, it hovers above the horizon and obscures it. But here now is a question of boundaries. I am not made for the mountains. Even my frequent dreams of taking retreat on a ridge or enveloped in a valley are time-bound. My midwesternliness
as forged my senses to be acute to subtlety. The silence in the snowy fields,
as our boy Robert Bly put it when, I think, he realized the same. Even my
other mountain home in the Appalachians is a terrain of subtlety. This clan
knows hollow from hollow, a dulcimer in one and a fiddle in the other. The
best sweet tea is in the valley, because the water there is soaked with
sentiment and the carbonsof the world's oldest mountain range. You drink
the mountain in the valley and its subtle, but it makes the difference.
And in my country, the shadiest tree is the one in the middle of the
field--the one that picked up its roots and left the rest of the stand in
the woods between soy and corn and found its roots of roots in the center of
the rows marking the landscape north, east, west, south, and whatever is
vertical. Underneath it you'll see me slouching against the trunk shoulder
to shoulder, drowsy in the summer sun, with my

And so three weeks in Ann Arbor. The task at hand is raising my salary for
Mountain T.O.P. 1775 dollars. Donations to me, thank you. Three weeks and
then south and west to Tennessee, and then in three months, north and east,
north and east for another three years or whatever it is. For those of you
who don't know, Harvard it is.

Chanson d'installation: Red House Painters, Katy Song and Have You Forgotten