Sunday, September 19, 2010
Salt for the Wound
If I had the time and inclination, I would be tempted to chart how my life and work are influenced by the seasons. While both do gradually change as I age, I also feel in myself recurring cycles and moods that are tied to the earth’s journey around the sun, the rising tides and waning moons, the subtle changes in atmosphere, temperature, and light. It isn’t just a case of writing autumn poems in autumn, at least not merely on the surface. The seasons, it seems, awaken different facets of my personality and areas in my brain. I remember different kinds of things at different times of year. I can feel a sense of joy or loss and longing at any time during the year, but the qualities of that feeling change with the seasons, and one of those qualities is quite physical — a matter of breath and pain and bones. To inhale the smoke of burning leaves is to inhale life itself and the treasure of memories it has stored. The touch of winter fog on my face and hands makes calm granite of my wishes. The fire in a cave is a fire in a room I have made with my own thoughts, which are just as apt to burn. Spring is mud time, when falling blossoms wake the dead. I am the seasons. I’ve known so since childhood, when I expressed it by jumping in the water, wagging my tail, and losing my leaves like every other living thing — and then, all at once, in the lucky experience of my death to meet and taste the soil, to have written on my brow the nameless loam where rivers used to run, and oceans, and ships, and sails, was born the childish man of words before you now, his palms open, a curse on his lips, salt for the wound that seeks his own. I can but weep, this time of year, through the bright-gray mask that has become my smile. The leaves, now beginning to change and fall, are like voices from graves I have to tend. I love them, love them all. And that is where it stands today, even as it breaks and changes, even as I laugh and dance and fail.
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