Saturday, December 20, 2008


Late last night, I had been in bed no more than half a minute when I suddenly felt as if I were being gently lifted by a current of water. My body rocked, my arms and legs were afloat. It’s spring, I thought. How nice. The river is rising, and I’m a piece of driftwood on the bank. Soon we’ll all be free.

An owl rushed by, low upon the water.

I awoke at three. I had been playing a carved wooden instrument a little larger than a mandolin, but with a dark smooth round belly. Then a stranger appeared and told me I didn’t really know how to play, and that I would never be able to learn. So I played some more.

Except for his attitude, the stranger was right: I didn’t know how to play. I just played. And the sound was sweet.

If he were here now — and I’m not quite sure he isn’t — I would tell him that there are a great many wonderful things in this world that don’t need to be learned, because we already know them, and are born with the knowledge.

From Songs and Letters, originally published April 25, 2007.

In the Forum: recorded live at Crudstock.

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